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Participation: What are the different dimensions of violent extremism and radicalisation drivers and pathways?

What are the different dimensions of violent extremism and radicalisation drivers and pathways?

Findings from the PARTICIPATION workshop in Catania


Social vulnerability and marginalisation: are these the main causes that lead to violent extremism and radicalisation?


Over the past months, our research has focused on the different dimensions of violent extremism and radicalisation pathways to address the link between social status, values and attitudes towards extremist practices and cultures, including hate speech, and the relationship between gender and radicalisation/extremism.


By a multidimensional modeling and provisional methodological strategy, the overarching objective of the PARTICIPATION H2020 project is to understand current and future trends of extremism, polarisation and radicalisation as well as the social composition of the group at risk in Europe. The research involves social actors, stakeholders and policy-makers in different social spheres in order to co-create together effective prevention strategies against extremism, polarisation and radicalisation.


In this regard, the PARTICIPATION H2020 project consortium recently reunited for the third Regional Workshop on November 10th and 11th, 2022 in Catania (Italy), hosted by Università di Catania partners. The aim of the event was to share the results achieved during the last year of the project, feeding the discussion on extremism and radicalisation to refine the research and contribute to the circulation of knowledge between experts, researchers, students and policy makers.


With a co-participatory set-up, the workshop was open to scholars, politicians, experts on terrorism and radicalization, researchers and practitioners in the field of contrasting and preventing radicalization and extremism. The workshop aimed to validate the PARTICIPATION findings gathered to understand radicalisation pathways and identify new trends but also to provide spaces for discussion hosting some of the most interesting active projects on preventing and contrasting violent extremism and radicalisation. During a roundtable session presented by Robert Gianni (BISS Institute, Maastricht University), Davide Lauretta (European Foundation for Democracy) shared about the Euroguide project. Thereafter, Dana Dolghin spoke about the CHAMPION project on behalf of PATRIR. The roundtable collected also a presentation on the CEAR project by Guido Savasta (CESIE), a digression on the TRUST project by Giuseppe Dentice from CESI and a short introduction of the MIRAD project by Vasilis Giannias (KMOP).


The workshop closed with concluding remarks by Liana Daher (Università di Catania) on the lesson learned during the event. In particular, she focused on the importance to find new model to address radicalisation and involve young people as key protagonists in the prevention paths.


The following research resources were presented during the event.


  • Far-right, far-left, separatism and religious extremism: comparative desk research on drivers

The first speech of the workshop was by Lorenzo Marinone (European Foundation for Democracy), who presented the main findings of the comparative research on radicalisation and violent extremism driven. Marinone’s speech was followed by Professor Marco Lombardi (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore – CounteR H2020 project) commentary, which insisted on the necessity to adapt researchers mindset to design new approaches to contrast radicalisation and terrorism.



The main goal of this report is to provide an updated, well-informed and nuanced picture of the state of the art of the research on what factors influence pathways of radicalisation towards violent extremism in the European landscape.


It partially builds on a similar work under H2020 TRIVALENT project, in which some of this project’s partners had participated. This report is a systematic review of the recent literature on the drivers of radicalisation and violent extremism. It is based on a two-step analytical framework: first, a qualitative analysis, and second, a textual-statistical (quantitative) analysis of the existing literature. Qualitative analysis is carried out on both academic (i.e., peer-reviewed) and grey literature. Quantitative analysis is carried out exclusively on scientific literature using Natural Language Processing Analysis. The timeframe considered covers the most recent literature on the subject, published from 2015 to early 2021.


Read more about the research here.


  • Social polarization, extremism and radicalism: a quantitative survey

NeclaAcik (Middlesex University) discussed wih Fahrad Khosrokhavar (CADIS, EHESS-CNRS) and Bulcsú Hunyadi (Political Capital Institute) about the result of PARTICIPATION quantitative survey on social polarization, extremism and radicalism undertaken with young people in schools in Belgium, Greece, Italy, Poland, Romania, UK.



The survey explores attitudes towards, and encounters with, extremism and radicalisation in the lives of young people aiming also at identifying factors and experiences associated with resilience towards extremism. It addresses forms of social polarisation associated with pathways to extremism, examining a wide range of socio-demographic factors, as well as other themes that have emerged as important in earlier research actions undertaken within the PARTICIPATION project.


Data collection took place over five months from November 2021 to March 2022, with a total of 1,243 students participating. Involving 68 questions, the survey has generated a significant data set about the lives of young people in Europe and their experiences with different expressions of extremism and radicalisation.


Read more about the research here.


  • Gender, extremism, and radicalization: a qualitative research 


The workshop second day opened with a session by Kevin McDonald (Middlesex University) who discussed about PARTICIPATION qualitative research on gender, extremism and radicalisation together with Dana Dolghin (University of Amsterdam) and Marilena Macaluso (Università degli Studi di Palermo). The session was followed by an open discussion about the input used for focus groups and how to deal with the gap between researchers’ generation and digital natives.



The research aims to deepen our understanding of pathways and trends associated with radicalisation and extremism in Europe today, with a particular focus on gender and gender-related aspects, in particular in the world of young people. It explores not only how young people observe or experience radicalisation and extremism in their day-to-day lives, but also how they respond to this. The qualitative research involved an ambitious strategy of 13 focus-groups research undertaken simultaneously in high schools and universities in five countries, namely Belgium, Greece, Italy, Romania, and the United Kingdom, involving 117 participants, and generating a unique qualitative data set around the ways young people in Europe encounter extremism and polarisation, in particular in relation to themes of gender.


  • How to explain radicalization? The book is available in bookstores


How to explain radicalization? A comparison of the driving factors of the far-right, far-left, separatist and religious extremism is finally available in physical and digital bookstores. The book main goal is to provide an updated, well-informed and nuanced picture of the contemporary research into the factors influencing pathways of radicalization towards violent extremism in the European landscape. Different kinds of extremism are taken into consideration (far-right, far-left, separatist and religious extremism) through a mixed approach that combined a qualitative study with textual-statistical analyses.


For further information about the book, please visit




PARTICIPATION is a research and innovation project that unites 15 partners in one effort to analyze and prevent radicalization aimed at increasing awareness of at-risk demographics and encouraging resilience through preventative, countering, and de-radicalization approaches. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 962547.


Date of the project: 01/12/2020 – 01/12/2023


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