Countering extremism(s): Differences in local prevention of left-wing, right-wing and Islamist extremism


  • Jan Jämte Örebro University
  • Rune Ellefsen Oslo University


Countering Violent Extremism, Deradicalization, Policy Implementation, Local Prevention, Islamist Extremism, Right-Wing Extremism, Left-Wing Extremism


Policies to prevent radicalization and violent extremism (PRVE) frequently target a number of social movements seen as threats to national security. Often, this includes militant Islamist, right-wing and left-wing extremist milieus. In this article, we ask what distinguishes the ways in which local practitioners perceive and respond to these three milieus. Based on in-depth interviews with public servants in Sweden, we show how the milieus are seen to represent different types of threats, hold core values that resonate differently with dominant values in mainstream society and require responses that challenge public servants in diverging ways. Building on our analysis, we introduce a multidimensional model that clarifies why practitioners relate differently to each milieu. By including the rarely examined left-wing milieu, we are able to showcase the complexity of local PRVE work. Our study sheds new light on the challenges experienced by practitioners who are tasked to implement PRVE policy and demonstrates the problems of approaching “violent extremism” as a uniform phenomenon.


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