Radicalisation is one of those buzz words that gets thrown into almost any conversation around terrorism, counter terrorism, and militant extremism in various forms. But is most especially associated with terror associated with Islam. However, like many buzz words it seeks to explain more than it can deliver.
Saying somebody has been “radicalised” is indeed pretty much meaningless and is often a way that politicians or others absolve themselves from blame or media pundits bandy around as a catchall explanation. In this article, I take issue with this abuse of the term, but recognising that as it is so pervasive we cannot abandon it. As such, if used we should recognise that “radicalisation” does not actually refer to anything in and of itself (people are socialised into worldviews we see as “radical”) and names various pathways and trajectories that are far more complex than a single word can really convey.
I also cover some recent debates around pathways into radicalisation between Kepel and Roy (two leading French theorists in the area) and look at the links with various forms of Islam.
I intend to write further and in more depth on this topic in the not so distant future. It seems to me a lot needs to be said to help unpack the jargon and myths around concepts of “radicalisation”.
Anyway, a full copy of the paper can be found here: