How Violent Right-Wing Extremists Leave Racist Groups in the U.S.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Kathleen BLEE, university of pittsburgh, USA
Matthew DEMICHELE, RTI International, USA
Pete SIMI, university of Nebraska, USA
There is little research to date on how and why racist extremists leave white supremacist groups. This gap in research is surprising, especially given the increase in violent racist and right-wing radical groups in the U.S.  We address this gap by examining the varying dimensions of the process of exiting violent racial extremism, including desistance from racist groups, deradicalization from racist ideologies, and exit from racist actions (such as assaults).  We are conducting intensive and lengthy face-to-face interviews with 50+ former violent racial extremists across the U.S. that have been identified in a respondent-driven sample done in collaboration with a community-based network of former extremists who are dedicated to helping people leave racist groups.  Our study, which includes men and men who were formerly involved in neo-nazis, Ku Klux Klan, and other racially extreme groups, will pinpoint the dynamics of exiting these highly insular and violent racist cultures.