Countering (Violent) Political Extremism Online

Hohnstein, Sally/Glaser, Michaela
Countering (Violent) Political Extremism Online. A Holistic Perspective.
VOX-Pol Network of Excellence Universität von Amsterdam "VOX-Pol Third Biennial Conference." 21.08.2018
Responses to online manifestations of (violent) political extremism are currently particularly focusing on forms of online initiatives, such as counter messaging or pro-active online interventions. However, research on life journeys and motives of young people who are attracted to islamist or right-wing extremism gives a more nuanced picture: Processes of attraction to and affiliation with extremist ideas or groups are usually the result of a multidimensional interplay of extremist ideological and social promises on the one hand and subjective processes of adoption and co-construction on the other. Furthermore, these processes appear to be closely connected to biographical experiences and individual, biographically grounded modes of interpretation and coping competencies. In light of this perspective, also the interest in and the use of virtual extremist manifestations should be regarded as being embedded in the wider context of biography and socialization, that is dimensions which point beyond digital media themselves. Against the backdrop of these findings, CVE strategies with a sole focus on media-based approaches are too narrowly considered and it further needs approaches that go beyond this perspective. In the first part, this paper will present and briefly discuss relevant assertions derived from international as well as the authors’ own research on juvenile pathways to (violent) extremism. In a second part, we will discuss various CVE approaches to (violent) political extremism online currently discussed in Germany, which go beyond a “media only-strategy” and which try to combine both media and broader biographical perspectives in various ways. Finally, the importance of a holistic prevention strategy will be highlighted.