British university to head major project into radicalisation among young people

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LONDON, March 10 (Xinhua) — University of Manchester in northern England announced Friday it will lead a 5.4 million U.S. dollar major international project to research radicalization and religious fundamentalism.

The four-year project titled “Dialogue about Radicalisation and Equality”(DARE) will explore how and why young people become radicalized and will collaborate with 15 partners in 13 countries. These include Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Malta, Norway, Poland, Russian, the Netherlands, Tunisia, Turkey and Britain.

Funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 framework, DARE will investigate young people’s encounters with messages and agents of radicalization, how they receive and respond to those calls, and how they make choices about the paths they take.

The focus of the research would be people aged 12 to 30, a key target group for recruiters. A spokesperson said DARE would “approach young people neither as victims nor perpetrators of radicalization, but as engaged, reflexive, often passionate social actors who seek information they can trust, as they navigate a world in which calls to radicalization are numerous.”

Researchers will focus on environments in which radicalization messages are found, rather than terrorist events or individuals. By observing everyday encounters, researchers will be able to study people who hold radical ideas without becoming extremists, and thus help to understand what pushes others across the threshold into violence.

Sociology professor Hilary Pilkington from the University of Manchester, coordinator of the project, said: “Radicalisation is a politically charged and divisive discourse. Social scientists can keep their hands clean by disengaging from it, but if they do, they duck the responsibility to understand and respond to the mainstreaming of hate speech and radicalism of all persuasions.

“By separating radicalisation research from terrorism studies, we can look at a process and thus allow for intervention. Moreover, we can understand people as active agents – reflecting on their journeys – not pathological extremists, and we can create the possibility of reaching our goal of a more secure, but not more hostile, society by learning from those who resist radicalisation.”

The university says DARE aims to generate high quality new data that will raise the bar in radicalization studies and significantly improve understanding of the scope, origins, causes and psychological, emotional and social dynamics of radicalization.

Editor: Zhang Dongmiao
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