Disengagement from Ideologically-Based and Violent Organizations: A Systematic Review of the Literature


  • Steven Windisch University of Nebraska at Omaha, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Pete Simi Chapman University, Department of Sociology
  • Gina Sott Ligon University of Nebraska at Omaha, College of Business Administration
  • Hillary McNeel University of Nebraska at Omaha, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice


disengagement, exit, systematic review, terrorism, street gangs, social movements


Research on disengagement from violent extremism is an emerging field of inquiry. As compared to the related field of radicalization, there have been fewer studies of disengagement. Further, little effort has been made to conduct a large scale, systematic review of what is currently known about disengagement from violent extremism. This type of meta-literature assessment can play an important role in terms of informing strategies and programs designed to facilitate exit. To help fill this gap, our project systematically examines the disengagement literature to determine the range and frequency of various exit factors identified in previous studies. We also rely on parallel literatures such as exit from street gangs, mainstream religious groups, cults, and nonviolent social movements to build a robust sample of studies that assess the extent to which group exit factors may generalize across different populations. 


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