What Do Overrepresented and Underrepresented Groups Tell Us About Risks for Involvement in Islamist Extremism?

Fiore Geelhoed*, Richard Staring

*Corresponding author for this work

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On the basis of empirical research on an underrepresented group—Turkish-Dutch youngsters—and an overrepresented group—converts—in Islamist extremist movements, we want to contribute to the debate on what fosters radicalization and resilience. While in both the underrepresented and the overrepresented group there are ample factors recognizable that are commonly identified as contributing to radicalization, Turkish-Dutch youngsters hardly become involved in Islamist extremism, while converts are involved to a larger extent than one might expect on the basis of the number of converts. To shed light on these findings, we will demonstrate how this differential involvement can be understood through the concept of “relational embeddedness”. 1 We will demonstrate how the relational embeddedness of this underrepresented and overrepresented group contributes in various ways to either the lack of susceptibility or the susceptibility to involvement in Islamist extremist groups. We will do this with reference to their sources of identification, their religious socialization, and the availability of legitimate political pathways. In the concluding discussion, we will argue that these insights can contribute to a more nuanced policy approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalStudies in Conflict and Terrorism
Early online date29 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
For each study the authors received funding. Study I was funded by the WODC, The Research and Documentation Center of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security. Study II was funded by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research. Study III was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security and by the International Center for Counter-terrorism.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Research programs

  • SAI 2005-04 MSS


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