The terrorist attacks on 22 July 2011 demonstrated a need for updated, research-based knowledge on right-wing extremism in Norway - a phenomenon that has changed considerably during recent decades. «Center for Research on Extremism: The Extreme Right, Hate Crime and Political Violence (C-REX)» was established in 2016 at the University of Oslo to meet this demand for knowledge.
C-REX studies right-wing extremism both as ideology and as ideologically justified violence. This is important in order to achieve a better understanding of the causes and consequences of right-wing extremism, as well as how liberal democracies successfully should defend themselves against violent right-wing activism. The Center is prioritizing five main research topics: (1) Ideology and identity, (2) Violence and hate crime, (3) Gender and Extremism, (4) Parties and movements and (5) Prevention and intervention. C-REX also creates important research databases, which will be a valuable resource nor only for the center?s researchers, but also for the international scholarly community in the field. The dataset on right-wing violence and terrorism (RTV) documents all deadly and severe violent events since 1990 and will be annually updated.
C-REX has a genuinely cross-disciplinary approach to the study of right-wing extremism, hate crime and political violence. The Center unites perspectives from political science, sociology, history, anthropology, ethnography, criminology, religion, psychology, and media studies, which facilitates theoretical and methodological pluralism.
Research conducted by C-REX scholars suggest two supposedly paradoxical developments: On the one hand, there has been a decline in right-wing violence since the 1990s, despite a significant uptick during the so-called refugee crisis. It is mostly the spontaneous, non-ideological and unorganized forms of violence that have declined. On the other hand, both moderate and extreme far-right organizations have become increasingly active. Radical right parties gain electoral support across Europe and beyond and more extreme groups are increasingly present on social media and in the streets. There are also signs of extreme right ideologies becoming more mainstream (Jupskås 2018), partly through so-called ?alternative media?. This is particularly the case with Islam-hostile perceptions.
Despite some general developments, there are still major difference between countries, regions and cities regarding right-wing violence and the strategies and support of far right actors. Levels of right-wing violence and the strategies of potentially violent groups seem related to legal responses, the group's self-identification, subcultural trends, levels of immigration and party politics. The likelihood of an individual (not) carrying out violent attacks is not only related to external factors, but also due to internal moral constraints and the extent to which they are partially embedded in a more organized extreme-right milieu.
The support for far right groups, on the other hand, is closely associated with general economic and cultural changes and perceptions of symbolic threats. It also matters what the groups do themselves, including whether they are able to generate public controversies, appear as legitimate or credible political actors and/or exploit social media. Changes in ideological expressions are often related to different types of crisis, moral shocks, position in the political system and/or transnational learning and interaction.
The Center for Research on Extremism, C-REX, will be a cross-disciplinary center for the study of right-wing extremism, violence and hate crime.
To achieve a better understanding of the causes and consequences of right-wing extremism, as well as how liberal democracies successfully should defend themselves against violent right-wing activism, our research will be organized according to two important distinctions. First, we need analyses of right-wing extremism as both a specific anti-democratic ideology and as ideologically justified violence, from hate crime to terrorism. Second, we need both actor-oriented studies that focus on attitudinal and behavioral aspects of (violent and non-violent) extreme right actors and systemic-oriented studies that examine the responses to (right-wing) extremism, including the political, legal and cultural system in which extreme right actors emerge and exist. In addition to these two distinctions, we also need to address the gendered nature of far-right politics, given the alleged importance of this dimension. Hence, the following five research themes will constitute the core of the Center’s research activities:
(1) Ideology and identity (actor-oriented analyses of ideology)
(2) Violence and hate crime (actor-oriented analyses of violent mobilization)
(3) Parties and movements (actor-oriented analysis of non-violent mobilization)
(4) Prevention and intervention (systemic analyses of responses to violent and non-violent right-wing extremism)
(5) Gender in extremism (analyses of different gendered aspects of right-wing extremism)
The knowledge produced by the thematic groups 1-3, as well as 5, is essential for informing effective prevention and intervention efforts (theme 4). C-REX will disseminate its findings through academic publications as well as different forms of communication with the public, practitioners, policymakers, schools, the media, civil society organizations and other stakeholders.