Talk is silver and silence is gold? Assessing the impact of public disengagement from the extreme right on deradicalization

Christer Mattsson, Thomas Johansson

Abstract


This article explores the relationship between disengagement and deradicalization processes among 15 individuals who have left the neo-Nazi movement. The participants in this study were initially interviewed in 2015, and the interview process is still ongoing. In this particular study, the differences between individuals who disengaged publicly, that is, those who did not or could not conceal their engagement with the movement, and individuals who were able to and/or wanted to keep their past a secret, are studied. The analysis of the interviews has focused on the outcomes of revealed or concealed stigmatization, in particular in relation to how disengagement was or was not followed by deradicalization. The findings suggest that those who disengaged publicly followed a clear path from disengagement to deradicalization, whereas those who tried to conceal their former involvement in the neo-Nazi movement showed a more complex pattern. Among the latter are individuals who are not yet deradicalized. However, they want to live “ordinary” lives and to have a family, free from fear that neighbours or people at work will stigmatize them and dissociate themselves from them. It is also clear that these participants were to a greater extent less satisfied with life in general. The findings also stress the ethical problems involved in using former neo-Nazis as public examples, as this traps them into a former neo-Nazi identity, thus creating new trauma.


Keywords


Neo-Nazis; Identity; Stigmatization; Self-Reflexive; Confession; Deradicalization; Disengagement

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References


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