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The strategic use of deradicalization

By Mark Dechesne.


The present contribution provides a recap of an earlier article entitled “Deradicalization: Not Soft but Strategic” (Dechesne, 2011). Building on the propositions that deradicalization is of strategic use, that it has existed for quite some time, that it may occur spontaneously, and that is should be differentiated from behavioral disengagement, a two-dimensional model of deradicalization is presented that differentiates between endogenous vs exogenous change and behavior vs. cognitive change, and depicts deradicalization as a process of cognitive change due to both endogenous and exogenous influences. The model is applied to various existing deradicalization programs leading to the propositions that
1) most of the European right-wing deradicalization programs focus more on behavioral than cognitive change,
2) there is insufficient insight in what motivates people to deradicalize;
3) psychological insights in belief change are insufficiently used to increase effectiveness of deradicalization. Crossfertilization between social psychology and deradicalization may turn out to be of considerable strategic relevance.

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