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Pathways to radicalization in adolescence: The development of ideological beliefs, acceptance of violence, and extremist behavior

Thomas Bliesener, Carl Philipp Schröder and Lena Lehmann

Abstract

This paper examines the link between attitudes, the acceptance of violence and the performance of extremist acts. It is tested, if different ideologies of extremism develop commonalities in their positions, attitudes and structures. Data from a school survey of more than 6,700 9th grade students from Germany serves as the empirical basis. The results show among other things that different extremist ideologies (right-wing, left-wing, Islamism) covary on the level of attitudes, acceptance of violence and extremist behavior. In a further step of analysis, the theoretically based paths of initially extremist attitudes, then an additional approval of violence and finally the commission of extremist acts was examined approximately in a person-oriented approach. Except for one path, the analyses of radicalization patterns confirm a model that commences on the cognitive level, followed by the acceptance of deviant means to reach ideological goals and finally leading to extremist acts.

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Published Online: 2021-08-07
Published in Print: 2021-09-14

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