The theme of radicalisation is similar to many other aspects of terrorism studies and research, poorly defined, lacking in conceptual depth and drawing on a very small group of reliable and scientific (in the broadest sense) studies; 15 according to a recent study from the United Kingdom Home Office (see Bouhana and Wikstron below). Sageman (2011: 117) has stated he has banned the term from his vocabulary, suggesting the use of plain language and speaking of “acquisition of extreme ideas” and “the path to political violence”. Sageman does have a point but his use of “mob” and “blob” later in the same paper to describe the process by which an individual moves from a large political protest movement to a smaller “bunch of guys” dynamic, begs the question, were there not another terms he could have found for these two “concepts”? Thus the United Kingdom Home Office have done researchers a service with the publication of two studies which a) assess the state of research b) provide useful bibliographies c) suggest ways forward in further developing evidence-based research on this theme.
Bouhana, N. & Wikstrom, P. H. (2011). Al Qa’ida-influenced radicalisation: A rapid evidence assessment guided by Situational Action Theory. Home Office.
Lehmann A et al. (2011). Understanding vulnerability and resilience in individuals to the influence of Al Qa’ida violent extremism. Home Office.
Sageman, M. (2011). The Turn to Political Violence in the West in Coolsaet, R (ed) Jihadi Terrorism and the Radicalisation Challenge: European and American Experiences 2nd Ed. Ashgate; Farnham and Burlington.
Some (haters) might argue that the song from which the title of this post is drawn is a potential source of radicalisation.