Responding to Violent Radicalization: Contextualized Resilience and Risk-Focused Prevention in Europe

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:50
Oral Presentation
Evelyne BAILLERGEAU, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Gabe MYTHEN, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
Recent terrorist attacks in France, the UK, Belgium, Spain, Germany and Sweden have led to renewed attention being directed towards risk-focused responses to terrorism, such as those exemplified by the Prevent strategy in the UK. There are many equivalents to Prevent across mainland Europe which seek to reduce the threat of future attacks by deploying policies of pre-emption and intervention. Aside from well-documented problems with ascribing risk factors to specific ethnic and religious groups, risk-focused prevention measures have tended to lack appreciation of social, political and economic context. Partly as a consequence of public, media and academic criticism, risk-focused measures have been modified and increasing attention in policy making circles has been paid in recent years to the positive potential of developing resilience amongst communities and individuals considered to be susceptible to radicalization.

Addressing the issues raised above, this paper examines the uses of resilience in the context of policies directed towards preventing violent extremism in Europe. In particular, we will examine the utility of context sensitive alternatives to risk-focused prevention, for example, those geared toward enhancing dialogue through community mediation and improving social cohesion. Drawing on empirical evidence developed during explorative area-based research in a few European cities recently affected by terrorist attacks, we elucidate the possibilities of and limits to engaging key actors such as teachers, youth workers and community-leaders in building trust and promoting social optimism. In so doing, we confront critical questions that are crucial in developing appropriate policy responses to the threat of terrorism. How is resilience understood and mobilised by the various actors involved in preventing radicalization? Which structural factors encourage or inhibit the building of resilience? How do contextualised resilience approaches work in relation to risk-focused approaches to violent radicalisation?