Prevention of Polarisation and Violent Extremism

We help build resilient and inclusive societies, through research and action, that seek to understand factors behind polarisation and violent extremism 

In the last two decades, the processes of radicalisation and violent extremism have been studied from an eminently security perspective, drawing profiles of potentially radicalisable people and trying to identify the subject of the future violent act in order to avoid it. Ultimately, prevention has been seen as a prelude to committing violence rather than a long-term investment in the social environment to prevent polarised societies that promote radicalisation. However, knowing what leads someone to commit a violent act is more complex than thinking that everything is explained by a specific factor, such as religion or lack of opportunities, or by a specific life experience, which has been the dominant premise to date.

This programme seeks to understand how the diverse and multiple factors that can lead someone to radicalisation and violence interact. Unravelling this combination of factors at various levels ‒ global, state, community and individual ‒ is the basis for identifying more vulnerable contexts faced with the risks of polarisation and, therefore, should allow us to work on the mechanisms of prevention developed by local actors and civil society. Doing so with the active and participatory involvement of youths, often categorised as a passive subject with the potential for manipulation, is key to building sustainable resilient communities.

With this approach, and after an extensive experience in analysis of violent extremism at the local and European level, with close collaboration with the various social and institutional actors involved, the IEMed takes a step further with the leadership of the research project H2020 CONNEKT (Contexts of Extremism in MENA and Balkan Societies). Funded by the European Union and with the collaboration of thirteen partners from academia, institutions and civil society, the project explores scientific research in two key regions of the European neighbourhood, North Africa and the Middle East, and the Balkans. The results of the research should serve both the regions under study and the EU in their strategic and practical approach to the prevention of polarisation and violence. In parallel and complementarily, the programme includes various activities to influence a paradigm of local prevention that is more effective, sustainable and closer to the voices of youths and civil society.