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Caught between the urgent and the comprehensible: professionals’ understanding of violent extremism

Critical Studies on TerrorismJournal abstract

The present article focuses on how 13 professionals in key organisations in Sweden – all commissioned to design social and pedagogical efforts to prevent recruitment to terror groups that commit violence in the name of Islam – understand and reason regarding the root causes of recruitment and possible measures to counteract it. The 13 informants’ reasoning is analysed through critical discourse analysis, the aim being to investigate discursive practices that influence the construction of a Swedish discourse on the “prevention of violent extremism”. The analysis shows that in the informants’ reasoning, a conflict can be found between security-driven doctrines that strive to individualise the issue of “violent extremism”, and their understanding that segregation is the primary, though indirect, factor sparking “radicalisation”. This conflict seems to impair the use of a professional language to describe and talk about the practical methodology that the informants are developing.