Shame, Norms and Values as possible Resources in Preventing and Countering Radicalisation


  • Benjamin Kerst Faculty of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf


German Marksmen’s Clubs, Prevention of Radicalisation, Emic Perspective, Ethnography, Extreme Right, Emotions


This article draws on empirical research – 23 qualitative interviews and data from ethnographic observation – within the German marksmen’s club milieu. There are over one million members of these clubs in Germany, where traditional customs, sociability and shooting sports are practised. Public perceptions of marksmen’s clubs are that they are rather conservative. Marksmen’s clubs look back to centuries-old traditions and, while they can be considered as part of the political mainstream or the social centre of society (Mitte der Gesellschaft), the milieu has attracted right-wing or extreme-right actors who have sought to influence, and appropriate certain aspects of, the milieu. This makes it an important environment for social scientific study in general and for radicalisation research in particular.

Rooted in the emic perspectives of the interviewed marksmen, this article explores a range of possible resources for preventing and countering radicalisation (P/CR) and facilitating non-radicalisation in the marksmen’s club milieu and society more widely. Drawing on reflections and findings in the field of criminal justice research, the moral emotion of (anticipated) shame is identified as such a potential resource alongside norms and values within the marksmen’s club and its communities. The article also discusses possible unintended, negative effects of (anticipated) shame, arguing that, if experienced as ‘stigmatising shaming’, such (anticipated) shame may also trigger or fuel radicalisation processes. The criminological concept of ‘reintegrative shaming’ is discussed as a potential way of avoiding such counterproductive ‘backfire effects’ and the notion of reintegrative dialogue – inspired by the emic perspectives of the interviewed marksmen – is explored.


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