Online Radicalisation, Risk and Terrorism in the Digital Space

Mark Littler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The last twenty years have seen a significant growth in activity by radical-right political movements across the Western world, and from a security perspective, also a rise in violent acts perpetrated by affiliates of the radical right. The rise in prominence of the contemporary European radical right has taken place in parallel with a significant increase in their online activities, opening new fronts in
the battle against extremism and radicalisation. While this mirrors the increase in internet use across the developed world over the last twenty years, and has taken place in parallel with the rise of online radicalisation by religion-based extremist groups, it is important to ensure that policymakers are alert to the need for a considered and academically rigorous response to the unique security threats that radical-right groups pose.
This paper is an attempt to identify and address some of the key issues around the role of the internet in the process of radicalisation for the radical right. Beginning by framing its terms of reference and placing the use of digital technologies in the context of a longer history of radical-right adoption of new technologies, it offers a review of the academic theory on radicalisation and a consideration of the empirical literature underpinning the commonalities
in the key theoretical models. It identifies the significant impact of both opportunities for socialization and the distribution of extremist content that stem from the use of digital communications, alongside mapping the gaps in the supporting research evidence. It then highlights the need for research to make use of more sophisticated modelling strategies and experimental designs as a means of supporting the making of causal inferences, alongside identifying the limitations imposed by a lack of data and difficulties accessing participants.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationViolent Radicalisation & Far-Right Extremism in Europe
EditorsAristotle Kallis, Sara Keiger, Bilgehan Öztürk
ISBN (Print)9789752459472
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


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