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Understanding Radicalisation

Thornton, AE; (2015) Understanding Radicalisation. Doctoral thesis , UCL(University College London). Green open access

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Given the considerable amount of effort and public resources invested in countering radicalisation, achieving a clearer understanding of what radicalisation is and of its causes is arguably a worthwhile and necessary endeavour. This thesis argues that such an understanding is lacking at present. Up until recently, researchers have relied upon interviews with current or former radicals in order to try and tease out those factors which might have contributed to radicalisation. As a result of the methodological approach, the focus has been upon individuals who are radicalised and their personal backgrounds, rather than on causal factors and mechanisms which might have been at work at other levels of analysis. Utilising and developing a tripartite theory of radicalisation by Bouhana and Wikström 2011, this thesis focuses on the emergence of radicalising settings. The role of so-called macro-level, or systemic, factors, which would affect the broader ecology and explain why settings propitious to radicalisation do or do not emerge in particular environments (e.g. communities) at particular times has been largely overlooked. One explanation is that such factors are rarely accessible through interviews conducted with those who commit terrorist acts. By using a relatively new methodology in the field, agent-based modelling, simulation experiments were conducted to examine the impact of collective efficacy and social disorganisation upon the emergence and maintenance of radicalisation within a setting. Systematic reviews were conducted in order to elucidate existing data for modelling parameters, while interviews with former radicals and current deradicalisation experts were carried out in order to provide new data for the model and add to a field in which this primary data is still limited. Agent-based modelling is shown to provide the field of radicalisation studies with a methodology in which to test and refine theory, scientifically examine current hypothesis and generate more by investigating potentially unexpected results from simulation experiments. This could be of great help to practitioners who seek to understand the impact of their interventions when conducting counter-radicalisation or de-radicalisation work in the future.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Understanding Radicalisation
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: radicalisation, terrorism, deradicalisation, counter radicalisation, agent based model, simulation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1470565
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