How extremist experiences become valuable knowledge in EXIT programmes.


  • Tina Wilchen Christensen Master Phil in social anthropology (Oslo University) and Ph.D from Roskilde University at the Department of Psychology and Educational Studies at Roskilde University in Denmark.


On the basis of a neo-Vygotskian approach the article analyses how former neo-Nazis, together with other staff at Fryshuset, a youth centre in Stockholm, Sweden, have developed the organisation EXIT, which helps people leave the extremist right. The article describes the processes former neo-Nazis must go through to alter their identity and self-understanding in order to become coaches/mentors capable of supporting others. In this connection, the article also illuminates EXIT’s practice for supporting their clients. The main reason for personal change, the article stresses, is that an individual’s engagement in a social practice alters his/her basis for reflection, allowing an alternative sense of identity to emerge. The reformulation of the individual’s past involved in this process, the article argues, is a requirement for their extremist experiences to become useable knowledge in an organisation like EXIT aimed at helping others leave what they have come to view as a destructive and anti-democratic lifestyle.



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