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DEMOS-Demokratisk og effektiv styring, planlegging og forvaltning

Exit and effective reintegration of violent extremists in Scandinavia

Alternative title: Exit og effektive reintegreringsprosesser av voldeling ekstremister i Skandinavia

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

Right-wing and Jihadist extremism has been a growing problem over the last decades, also in Scandinavia, and it is expected to increase. Extremist activities create fissures in the consensus and trust-based Scandinavian society. Trust erodes through the polarization of public debates, through the creation of internet echo chambers, and the promotion of conspiracy theories, and contributes to marginalization. Moreover, counter-radicalization programs have, if conducted incorrectly, the possibilities to enhance rather than reduce alienation. In this project, we therefore aim to contribute to support (potential) violent extremists’ exit and reintegration processes by exploring how such interventions can be better implemented. The project develops new knowledge and generates research competence needed by society, public institutions, or the business sector to promote exit processes from violent extremism and reintegration into the society, and the challenge it represents to the society. The Scandinavian governments’ strategy to counter violent extremism is to make the public institutions accountable for mitigating extremist activities through prevention and reintegration interventions. Several welfare actors, across various sectors and levels of governments, are thus in the frontline to counter violent extremism by providing crucial welfare services such as social, health and economic services. The project studies the welfare actors’ delivered services, including the vertical and horizontal coordination and cooperation between welfare actors and between welfare actors and other actors such as police and intelligence service. Additionally, the project studies the clients’, their relatives and practitioners perspectives on the provided interventions and their consideration of the effect of the interventions. The research is a partnership with three universities and municipalities in Scandinavia, and two external partners, the Salto Oslo og RVTS East.

The project is a comparative study of exit practices in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, to gain empirical knowledge, and develop policy goals. Internationally studies has focused on a contexts that is not comparable, as for example middle eastern countries. Previous studies about exit and reintegration interventions in Scandinavia, have primarily focused on investigating the national and local policies and strategies, including how these services are coordinated and organized, without studying the actual interventions and the experiences of the interventions (Mattsson 2019; Andersson, Malmros & Mattsson, 2017; Lid 2016; Malmros 2019; Christensen & Bjørgo 2017; Sivenbring & Malmros 2020; Gjelsvik & Bjørgo, 2019). Moreover, there is no generally accepted standard for assessing the effectiveness of such programs, neither in the studies focusing on cases outside of Scandinavia nor in the studies focusing on Scandinavia (Hansen & Lid, 2020; Gielen, 2017). We also see a lack of trust because of cooperation between welfare institutions and a lack of focus on the experiences of the exitees and their next of kin, and attention to gender issues. These research gaps have potential effects on implementation of exit interventions and on the efficiency of various type of interventions. Thus, these research gaps can influence reintegration into the wider society after the intervention, with direct repercussions for wider social security, and for the wider trust of the public in the ability of state institutions to prevent violence.We will address these research gaps by study the exit programs in selected municipalities in Norway, Sweden and Denmark in order to develop policy guidelines and inform and improve exit programs, this by cooperating with institutions implementing these programs in Scandinavia. This project bring forward much needed knowledge about how welfare institutions can provide effective interventions to promote exit and reintegration of extremists

Funding scheme:

DEMOS-Demokratisk og effektiv styring, planlegging og forvaltning