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Radicalization: The Evolution of an Analytical Paradigm

  • Stefan Malthaner (a1)


Over the course of the past decade, “radicalization” has become prevalent as an analytical paradigm to interpret and explain phenomena of political violence, notably in research on jihadist terrorism and Western “foreign fighters” in Syria and Iraq. Thereby, while to some extent opening up new avenues of investigation, the concept also significantly re-shaped the way in which phenomena of political violence were analyzed and explained, focusing analytical attention on processes of cognitive and ideological transformation, mainly at the individual level. The purpose of this article is to examine some of the main strands of development in recent research on radicalization, with reference to and within the context of broader sociological research on political violence as well as reviewing critical debates and recently emerging sub-fields of investigation.

Au cours de la dernière décennie, la « radicalisation » est devenue un paradigme analytique très répandu pour interpréter et expliquer les formes de violence politique, notamment dans les travaux consacrés au terrorisme djihadiste et aux « combattants étrangers » occidentaux en Syrie et en Irak. Ainsi, alors qu’il a permis d’ouvrir dans une certaine mesure de nouvelles pistes de recherche, le concept a également contribué à transformer la manière dont les formes de violence politique ont été analysées, en mettant l’accent sur les processus de transformation cognitive et idéologique, principalement au niveau individuel. Le but de cet article est de cartographier et discuter certains des axes de recherche sur la radicalisation, en référence et dans le contexte plus large de la recherche sociologique sur la violence politique, mais également d’étudier l’évolution de la notion dans les débats critiques et les nouveaux sous-domaines de recherche.

Im Laufe der vergangenen Dekade avancierte “Radikalisierung” zu einem der vorherrschenden analytischen Paradigmata um Phänomene politischer Gewalt zu untersuchen und zu erklären, insbesondere in Studien zum dschihadistischen Terrorismus und westlichen „foreign fighters” in Syrien und dem Irak. Dabei eröffnete das Konzept neue Wege der Untersuchung. Zugleich jedoch veränderte es fundamental die Art und Weise, in der Politische Gewalt analysiert wurde, indem es den Schwerpunkt der Analyse auf kognitive und ideologische Veränderungen und auf die Ebene individueller Radikalisierungsprozesse verschob. Dieser Aufsatz zeichnet die wichtigsten Linien in der Radikalisierungsforschung nach und setzt diese zur breiteren soziologischen Forschung zu politischer Gewalt in Beziehung. Mit Blick auf konzeptuelle Debatten der jüngeren Zeit und neu entstehende Forschungsfelder zeigt er weitere Entwicklungen und Entwicklungspotentiale von „Radikalisierung” als analytischem Paradigma zur Untersuchung politischer Gewalt auf.

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