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Contemporary radicalisation trends and their implications for Europe


The research to address this challenge should focus on one or two dimensions that have to be comprehensively addressed. They may include additional aspects which are relevant to addressing the specific challenge.

1) Radicalisation, violence and hate crime

Research should map out and provide a sound overview of the scope of recent radicalisation trends, in Europe and possibly beyond, also through comparisons across time. It should explore the origins, psychological and emotional dynamics and drivers of radicalisation, as well as effective barriers to its spread, in particular in relation to the young. In this context, the phenomenon of self-radicalisation specifically needs to be much better understood. Research needs to investigate both structures and agency, also in relation to each other: it should ask, on the one hand, which contexts, ideologies and environments, and, on the other hand, which mind-sets and individual, including psychological and affective, dispositions and ideas of ‘grievance’ are conducive to self-radicalisation. The influence of inequalities and discrimination and their connections with ideologies ought to be scrutinised as well as the direct and indirect communication channels by which the radicalising messages reach their audience, especially the young. In particular research should address the question of whether enduring societal polarisation and sustained inequalities of certain groups lead to stigmatisation and discrimination and how this impacts upon radicalisation. Research also needs to enhance the understanding of preparedness to commit acts of (extreme) violence and atrocities, sometimes deliberately conducted to maximise visibility and even media attention. The drivers which push individuals beyond a certain threshold to commit violence and hate crimes need to be studied, also as a basis for identifying possible remedies and strategies aimed at preventing radicalisation or at favouring de-radicalisation. Socialisation processes linked to these crimes as well as re-socialization processes which can reverse them should be considered and gender aspects included. Research under this topic requires a multidisciplinary effort involving a wide range of disciplines including for instance psychology, criminology, anthropology, cultural studies, ethnology, history and law.

2) Radicalisation and religious fundamentalism

Projects under this dimension should study the possible roles and significance of religions in radicalisation in various guises, e.g. religion as a radicalising ideology in itself, as a potential (ideological) justification or legitimation for violent attacks against others, including groups and/or entire cultures and ideologies. Research should also investigate whether, how and to what extent religion is instrumentalised for political pursuits. This may require investigation of the evolution of religious fundamentalism in and outside of Europe and its embeddedness into broader global phenomena. Research also needs to examine the contexts and dynamics of recruitment strategies and initiatives, including the motivations and receptiveness of targeted groups and individuals. The role of networks, organised crime, prisons, social media and the internet in general must be explored, too. Due regard must be had to the gender dimension. At a policy level, possible migration, asylum and integration policies need to be examined in a comparative perspective and solutions identified for preventing and countering radicalisation in the name of any religion. This requires multidisciplinary collaborative research, drawing from psychology, criminology, anthropology, sociology, economy, political sciences, political philosophy, law, and cultural and religious among others.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Radicalisation is on the rise, not just in Europe. It is manifest not only in the increased success of radical political parties and movements at both ends of the political spectrum. Whilst many if not most expressions and manifestation of radicalism are peaceful and often driven by idealistic conceptions of a better world or life, this topic is inspired by recent developments which have seen small minorities resorting to violence seemingly motivated by extremist ideologies and in some cases religion. Thus, the focus lies on forms of radicalisation that lead to violence, intolerance, racism and hate crimes. Stark examples include the involvement of radicalised young people born and raised in the EU in atrocities committed in the name of the so-called Islamic State as well as highly visible terrorist attacks of political nature. In parallel to these trends, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and islamophobic radicalism and violence are also increasing. The reasons for these trends seem multifarious and complex in Europe: growing inequalities in European societies and their expressions such as unemployment and the absence of concrete life perspectives for younger populations, the increasing and permanent exposure to social media and life in a virtual world as well as disappointments with existing democratic regimes. Outside Europe, inequalities, poverty, vulnerability, conflicts and political ideologies lead to rising trends in various kinds of radicalisation. The challenge for research is to better and more fundamentally understand the scope of these phenomena, as well as their origins, causes, psychological and emotional dynamics as well as socialisation processes at play in radicalisation. Solutions and practices conducive to preventing this radicalisation should be identified.

Research under this topic will considerably enhance the knowledge base on the scope, origins, causes and cognitive as well as emotional dynamics of radicalisation. Projects will also devise new methods for studying radicalisation beyond traditional perspectives in particular in relation to young people. Research will provide the basis for future evaluation of policies, envisaging innovative solutions, in particular with regard to their effects on radicalisation and (dis)integration. Research will also furnish recommendations on how to address religious fundamentalism in and outside of Europe. Projects will also produce profiles of recruiters and targeted individuals and groups such as young women. Recommendations on effective strategies, practices and new options of de-radicalisation and for the prevention of radicalisation will be made not least in relation to education policies.