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A Biographical Perspective on Processes of Radicalisation

Meier, Jana; Bögelein, Nicole; Neubacher, Frank

This article reconstructs four ideal types of biographical self-descriptions outlining radicalisation processes that are based on longitudinal biographical interviews conducted with male (former) right-wing extremists. In the first self-description, the biographers explain how they were born into radicalised families whose ideological norms and values they adopted without question. The second self-description outlines how the biographers’ actions were guided by a longing for stability and community. Initially, ideology plays a tangential role, with involvement in Kameradschaften and violence providing key momentum. In the third self-description, biographers refer to their German heritage and glorify National Socialism. They see themselves as guardians of the German Volk, and partly resort to violence to defend this idea. The fourth self-description outlines engagement with right-wing extremism as an outlet for frustrations with social discrimination. During our analysis, we examine whether any of these ideal types also correspond to self-descriptions given by Islamists, concluding that the latter do indeed describe their pathways into radicalisation in a similar manner.
Published in: European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 10.1007/s10610-021-09498-z, Springer Nature