Youth work and countering radicalisation and violent extremism

This project is led by Dr Katherine Brown (Theology & Religion) and Dr Surinder Guru and is funded by a British Academy Small Research Grant.

Katherine and Surinder’s pilot study is part of a larger project on professional communities and countering violent extremism (CVE) that will advance understanding of the ways in which professional communities engage with, develop new knowledge of, and are transformed by CVE policies across Europe.

Currently, most policies focus on sub-sections of society that European governments perceive as ‘vulnerable’ to radicalisation, such as the young, the disenfranchised, and the mentally ill. These measures stress the importance of working with families and communities to prevent such 'at-risk groups' from joining or supporting violent terrorist or radical organisations. As a consequence, there has been a range of devolved and localised CVE programmes across European cities and a new set of professional responsibilities, guidelines and practices for public facing services.

Yet how these professional services understand, implement, and generate knowledge about radicalisation processes, ‘vulnerable’ individuals, and CVE practices is largely absent in research and policy evaluation. Understanding how these services work with and within this relatively new field of CVE is vital to policy success, to generating enhanced knowledge about radicalisation from the frontline, and insights into how professional communities adapt, learn, and appropriate new ideas, responsibilities and practices.

The pilot study will hold workshops in three cities – Birmingham, Paris and Amsterdam – to explore how youth workers understand radicalisation programmes. These three cities have well-established CVE programmes and are held up by the Radicalisation Awareness Network as examples of best practice. Katherine and Surinder will produce an academic journal article, a policy report, and a professional/trade article length publication. The 18-month project will start in November 2017.