Risk factors for violent radicalization: youth, wealth and education

New research from Queen Mary University of London has found youth, wealth, and being in full-time education to be risk factors associated with violent radicalisation. Contrary to popular views – religious practice, health and social inequalities, discrimination, and political engagement showed no links.

The pioneering research assessed population prevalence of sympathies for terrorist acts – a key marker of vulnerability to violent radicalisation – and their relationship with commonly assumed causes of radicalisation. The community study surveyed over 600 men and women of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Muslim heritage in London and Bradford, aged 18-45.

A small minority of people (2.4%) expressed some sympathy for violent protest and terrorism, whilst over 6% remained neutral – i.e., they did not show sympathies but nor did they condemn such acts. However, sympathy levels increased among those under 20, those in full time education rather than employment, those born in the UK, and high earners (£75,000 per year or more).

Interestingly, migrants and those speaking a language other than English at home, and those who reported having poor physical health, were all less likely to show sympathies for terrorist acts. In addition, those who reported suffering from anxiety and depression were no more likely to display sympathies, provoking some new research questions about the relationship between radicalisation and mental health…

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