«Norwegian research on the prevention of radicalisation and violent extremism: A status of knowledge Tore Bjørgo and Ingvild Magnæs Gjelsvik PHS ...»
Norwegian research on
the prevention of radicalisation
and violent extremism:
A status of knowledge
Tore Bjørgo and Ingvild Magnæs Gjelsvik
PHS Forskning 2015: 2
(This is an abridged edition, translated into English)
Note: The (sub)chapters in italic are not translated into English and are not included in this
abridged version of the study. These non-translated sections can be found in the full
Norwegian edition of the report which can be downloaded from this link:
Thus, the translated text is parts of the Introduction and the entire Conclusions chapter.
1. Introduction Assignment and the topic of this study Delimitation and interpretation of the assignment Definitions of main concepts
2. Norwegian research on violent right-wing extremism and preventive measures Research on Norwegian fascism during the period 1933-1945: Recruitment to “Nasjonal Samling” and the foreign fighters of the past Norwegian research on right-wing extremism from the 1980ies Tore Bjørgo’s doctoral dissertation Katrine Fangen’s doctoral dissertation and book about neo-Nazis Applied research on right-wing extremism and gangs and the key role of Yngve Carlsson Norwegian research on right-wing extremism after the 22nd of July 2011 Hate crime – more than right-wing extremism?
3. Norwegian research on left-wing extremism
4. Norwegian research on militant Islamism and foreign fighters Research on Norwegian Muslim foreign fighters Norwegian foreign fighters in a historical perspective Foreign fighters in a global perspective Two research-like cases of investigative journalism Motivations for joining Jihad An anthology on Islamic terrorism Islamism, Salafism, IslamNet and the Prophet's Ummah Research on radicalisation and violent extremism online Women and militant Islamism Police efforts to counter violent radicalisation and Islamist extremism Prevention of radicalisation among young Muslims in Norway Investigative journalism on militant Islamism Ongoing research projects Discourses and effects of preventing radicalisation in Scandinavia (RADISKAN) The municipalities' role in the prevention of radicalisation and violent extremism Norwegian foreign fighters Militant Islamism in Norway
5. Norwegian research on prevention of terrorism Research on causes for the emergence of terrorism Research on terrorist’s strategies, rationalities and target selection Research on preventing and countering terrorism Tore Bjørgo’s holistic model of prevention of terrorism and other crimes
6. Research on prevention of radicalisation and extremism in Scandinavia and Europe Research on terrorism, radicalisation and prevention in Denmark Research on terrorism, radicalisation, hate crime and prevention in Sweden European research on prevention of radicalisation, extremism and terrorism
7. Conclusions, knowledge gaps and needs for further research Summary What works and what does not work? What research can (or cannot) provide the answer to Restrictions and paradoxes relating to research ethics Knowledge gaps and needs for further research Radicalisation, recruitment and rehabilitation of violent activists and foreign fighters Women in extremists groups The relationship between the violent extremists and those that are not quite as extreme Right-wing extremism and hate crime Coordination and initiation of local efforts Databases and source data Ethical issues relating to research of radicalisation and violent extremism The balance between prevention and freedom Bibliography
Assignment and the topic of this study In January 2015, the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion (BLD) commissioned the Consortium for Research on Terrorism and International Crime, represented by the Norwegian Police University College and Tore Bjørgo, to prepare a knowledge summary of research on the prevention of radicalisation and violent extremism.
The starting point of the assignment was the Government's Action Plan against Radicalisation and Violent Extremism which was presented in June 2014.
Measure 1: Research strategy The development of strategies to improve and coordinate research efforts on radicalisation and violent extremism. There must also be strategic efforts to assess how the Norwegian research can be linked to international research, and also to assess whether Norway can initiate or take part in joint European or Nordic research projects. There is also a need for better systematisation of existing research in the field and a need to create closer ties between Norwegian and international groups.
The Letter of Commission noted that knowledge and information are an important prerequisite for a targeted effort and the development of effective, preventive measures against radicalisation and violent extremism. There are solid, established research groups in the field. However, there is a continual need to build up expertise as well as the systematisation and dissemination of the research. This includes general information about radicalisation and violent extremism in Norway and internationally, including radicalisation processes and motivating factors, effective prevention, and the importance of the internet and social media in the process of radicalisation The assignment involves preparing a knowledge summary which systematises and analyses documentation and research by area, topic and problem. Furthermore, it involves assessing the status of the knowledge in relation to what can, should and will be necessary to know more about in order to be able to prepare effective measures to prevent recruitment to extremist groups. All forms of violent extremism must be included in the knowledge summary.
The objective of the knowledge summary is:
Prepare an accessible overview of the content of existing research.
Identify the topics about which knowledge is available.
Identify knowledge gaps.
Provide suggestions for possible continued studies in the field.
The Letter of Commission stated that the knowledge overview must place particular emphasis on the research that is taking place on the prevention of radicalisation and violent extremism in Norway. It must state what the research defines as being the preventive phase in the work on preventing recruitment to violent extremism. In addition, it must identify the relevant research groups in the Nordic region and Europe. The knowledge overview must be made
publicly available. The knowledge overview should concentrate on the following issues:
With Norway as the starting point:
What research exists in the field of radicalisation and violent extremism?
What knowledge exists about the causes of people becoming radicalised?
What knowledge exists about preventive strategies and the effects of these?
Where is new research required?
With the Nordic region and Europe as the starting point:
Where do we find groups that research radicalisation and violent extremism?
What topics do these research groups focus their research on?
A very short time frame was given for completing the assignment: The final report should be submitted to BLD on 27 April 2015. It was.
Researcher Ingvild Magnæs Gjelsvik was engaged to assist Tore Bjørgo in this work. She has principally been responsible for the overview of the research into militant Islamism.
7. Conclusions, knowledge gaps and needs for further research
This concluding chapter provides a brief summary of the research status within different forms of violent extremism, however makes no attempt to develop a synthesis of the content of the research. There is then a section about the types of expectations that can be had for the research being able to answer questions about "what works and what does not work" when concerning methods and measures for preventing radicalisation and extremism. In addition, there is a discussion of some principal issues regarding research ethics and restrictions in the type of data researchers can collect and systematise compared with what investigative journalists can do. The most important matter comes at the end: What do we consider to be the most obvious knowledge gaps in the research on preventing radicalisation and extremism and what issues do we propose that emphasis should be placed on in future research efforts in this field?
Summary A great deal of research has been conducted in Norway and Scandinavia concerning radicalisation and violent extremism of various ideological orientations. Most of the research has looked at the phenomena themselves without being particularly concerned with the preventive aspects or the possibilities of these. However, some of the research has described radicalisation processes in such a way that knowledge is provided about possible intervention points for preventive initiatives. However, only a small part of the research directly and explicitly addresses how to prevent radicalisation and violent extremism or assesses such efforts from a critical or evaluative perspective. This research that is relevant to prevention is also divided very differently among different forms of extremism and into different periods of time.
The most systematic research effort with the stated objective of producing knowledge for preventing violent extremism occurred in the period from 1991 until 2005, and this focussed on right-wing extremism, racial violence and gangs. A small group of researchers, with Yngve Carlsson and Tore Bjørgo as the most active, was responsible for the majority of this research, with important contributions from several of their colleagues (including Katrine Fangen, Thomas Haaland, Herman von der Lippe, Inger-Lise Lien and Frøydis Eidheim). A feature of this research was close proximity to and knowledge exchange with practitioners in the government agencies and voluntary organisations who worked with implementing preventive measures. The researchers (particularly Yngve Carlsson and Tore Bjørgo) assessed and evaluated preventive methods and measures that the practitioners had initiated and themselves provided suggestions for new methods and strategies. During this period, Norwegian researchers disseminated research-based knowledge to the rest of Scandinavia and to parts of Europe about how to prevent and combat right-wing extremist youths and gangs with "soft" methods such as the "Exit" initiative, parent network groups, preventive dialogue and guidance methods.
There is reason to believe that this research – in close collaboration with practitioners – contributed to the preventive apparatus becoming more knowledge-based, efficient and targeted in its efforts and that this in turn contributed to the violent, right-wing extremist youth groups being largely "dismantled" and disappearing as a problem in Norway during the 2000s. However, as the problem with right-wing extremist youths petered out, the relevant researchers moved on to other areas of work and other topics. In the period from 2005 until after the 22 July attacks in 2011 there was almost no academic research into right-wing extremism in Norway.
At the same time, the actual phenomenon changed considerably. The new "anti-Jihadi movement" was no longer a phenomenon associated with marginalised youths, but rather often well-established adults, and activism primarily took place on online social media, not on the street. The preventive methods that had proven to be effective for socially marginalised youths in the right-wing extremist groupings in the 1990s and early 2000s were no longer as relevant for completely different target groups and phenomena. Following the 22 July attacks, some research into right-wing extremism in Norway has again commenced.
However, there are very few Norwegian researchers who have addressed how to confront this new form of right-wing extremism. The most important exception is Lars Gule (2012) who has written a book about how to counter these activists on the internet and in social media.
Anne Birgitta Nilsen (2014) has also contributed to demonstrating how to counter hate speech.
There has also been little research into hate crime in Norway, particularly when compared with Sweden. In the 1990s, a great deal of research was conducted into racist and xenophobic violence (particularly by Tore Bjørgo). The most important Norwegian research group studying hate crime is presently at the Norwegian Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities. In addition, some research is conducted at the Norwegian Police University College in connection with hate crime against LHBT people and threats against politicians. Research into hate crime is much more comprehensive in Sweden than it is in Norway.
Research into left-wing extremism in Norway has been rather limited and has largely been concerned with the maoist AKP (the Workers Communist Party) phenomenon and how Norwegian youths could support this type of totalitarian movement. The more street-oriented, militant activism has not been a focus of academic research to any great extent. Some of those who have researched right-wing extremists groups (Katrine Fangen, Yngve Carlsson and Tore Bjørgo) have also written about how violent attacks from anti-racists were counterproductive and contributed to strengthening the cohesion and extremism of the right-wing extremist youth groups. However, other than violence during demonstrations and clashes with ideological opponents, violent left-wing extremism has generally constituted a rather limited problem in Norway, particularly compared with the situation in Sweden and Denmark. Therefore, it is perhaps not so surprising that there has been no demand for research into the prevention of left-wing extremism. However, there is still a need for new research into militant anti-racism and the dynamic that is created between them and their enemies on the far right. This research should preferably have a broader Scandinavian or European perspective since these movements have a high degree of transnationalism.