Leaving Hate Behind – Neo-Nazis, Significant Others and Disengagement

Christer Mattsson, Thomas Johansson

Abstract


The purpose of this study is to contribute to the oral history of disengagement processes of former neo-Nazis in Sweden. The main aim is to take a holistic approach to their narratives. This means that these narratives need to be placed in relation to significant others – such as teachers, parents, and siblings – in order to contextualize the individual stories and pathways and also analyze push and pull factors in a broader context. Although there is ample evidence for the importance pro-social relationship for disengagement, most studies have focused exclusively on the individual stories. This one-sided focus could contribute to the construction of a highly individualized narrative of disengagement processes. Research has shown that disengagement from extremist movements is often preceded by individuals’ disillusionment with the movement, but there is also a need for the individual to reconnect with others outside the movement in order to share his or her doubts. There is, however, scarce research on how this process of interaction with significant outsiders who are present during both the radicalization and disengagement process can be understood. The empirical material of this study consists of two case studies. Each case story contains a condensed narrative of the person’s own perception of push and pull factors leading into the neo-Nazi movement in Sweden and starting a disengagement process. In one case, disengagement was successful, in the other it was not. In addition to these individual narratives, a number of voices of significant others are added and analyzed to contextualize each pathway. The results show that disengagement can be understood as a combination of fateful moments and “interventions” by significant others. The non-judgmental attitudes among these significant others are rooted in their lived experiences of handling individuals grievances.


Keywords


Disengagement Processes; Significant Others; Social Psychology; Fateful Moments

Full Text:

PDF

References


Aho, J.A. (1994). This Thing of Darkness. A Sociology of the Enemy. Seattle: Washington University Press.

Altier, M.B., Thoroughgood, C.N., & Horgan, J.G. (2014). Turning away from terrorism: Lessons from psychology, sociology, and criminology. Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 51(5):647-661.

Barrelle, K. (2015). Pro-integration: disengagement from and life after extremism. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Vol. 7(2): 129-142.

Bjørgå, T. (2009). Processes of disengagement from violent groups of the extreme right. In Bjørgå, T. & Horgan, J. (eds.), Leaving terrorism behind: Individual and collective disengagement. London: Routledge.

Bubolz, B.F. & Simi, P. (2015). Leaving the world of hate: Life-course transitions and self-change. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 59(12):1588-1608.

Dumez, H. (2015). What is a case, and what is a case study? Bulletin de Méthodologie Sociologique, Vol. 27(1):43-57.

Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity & Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Gielen, A-J. (2018). Exit programmes for female jihadists: A proposal for conducting realistic evaluation of the Dutch approach. International Sociology, Vol. 33(4):454-472.

Harris, K., Gringart, E., & Drake, D. (2018). Leaving ideological groups behind: A model of disengagement. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Vol. 10(2):91-109.

Horgan, J. (2008). Deradicalization or disengagement? A process in need of clarity and a counterterrorism initiative in need of evaluation. Perspectives on Terrorism, Vol. 2(4):3-8.

Horgan, J., Altier, M.B, Shortland, N., & Taylor, M. (2017). Walking away: The disengagement and de-radicalization of a violent right-wing extremist. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Vol. 9(2):63-77

Kimmel, M. (2007). Racism as adolescent male rite of passage. Ex-Nazis in Scandinavia. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 36(2):202-218.

Kimmel, M. (2018). Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into – and Out of – Violent Extremism. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Koehler, D. (2016). Understanding Deradicalization: Methods, Tools and Programs for Countering Violent Extremism. Oxon/New York: Routledge.

Kvale, S. & Brinkmann, S. (2009.) InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing (second ed.). London: Routledge.

McCauley, C. & Moskalenko, S. (2011). Friction: How Radicalization Happens to Them and Us. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mattsson, C. & Johansson, T. (2018). Becoming, belonging and leaving – Exit processes among young neo-Nazis in Sweden. Journal for Deradicalization, Summer 2018, No. 15.

Merriam, S.B. (1988). Case Study Research in Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc. Publisher.

Moghaddam, G. (2005). The staircase to terrorism: A psychological exploration. American Psychologist, Vol. 60(2):161-169.

Rae, J. (2012). Will it ever be possible to profile the terrorist? Journal of Terrorism Research, Vol. 3(2):64-74.

Roy, O. (2007). Islamic terrorist radicalisation in Europe. In Allen, C., Amghar, S., Amiraux, V., Boubekeur, A., Choudhury, T., Emerson, M., Godard, B., Karich, I., Rigoni, I., Roy, O., & Silvestri, S. (eds.), European Islam: Challenges for Society and Public Policy (pp. 52-60). Brussels: Center for European Policy Studies.

Sageman, M. (2004). Understanding Terror Networks. University of Pennsylvania Press.

Simi, P., Blee, K., DeMichele, M., & Windisch, S. (2017). Addicted to hate: Identity residual among former white supremacists. American Sociological Review, Vol. 82(6):1167-1187.

Vetenskapsrådet. (2011). God forskningssed. Vetenskapsrådets rapportserie 1: 2011.

Windisch, S., Simi, P., Ligon, G.S., & McNeel, H. (2017). Disengagement from ideologically-based and violent organizations: A systematic review of the literature. Journal for Deradicalization. Winter 2016/17, No. 9:1-38.

Yin, R.K. (2008). Case Study Research. Design and methods (fourth edition). London: Sage.


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2019 Christer Mattsson, Thomas Johansson

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

ISSN: 2363-9849 

Proud Member of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)