There is little research supporting the development of community partnerships to facilitate the deradicalization of violent extremists in the U.S. This gap in research is surprising because simultaneous to the growth in foreign terrorist groups there has been an increase in violent right-wing radical groups within the U.S. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported that the number of hate groups has increased by 56 percent since 2000 and that the number of right wing antigovernment or Patriot groups has increased more than 800 percent since 2008. The proposed study will address this gap by providing a more comprehensive and extensive understanding of deradicalization processes among domestic violent extremists to inform community level prevention and intervention strategies.
Subjects: The study will include 52 former right-wing extremists.
Partnerships: RTI International is partnering with Life After Hate (LAH), subject matter experts (Drs. Blee and Simi), and human rights activists (Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Southern Poverty Law Center) to study the onset, persistence, and desistance from extremism.
Research Design and Methods: We will use a respondent-driven sampling approach to recruit up to 52 former right-wing extremists to conduct in-depth face-to-face interviews. The sampling approach will start with three initial interviewees (i.e., seeds) identified by LAH and the human rights organizations. These seeds will be provided with three recruitment vouchers that include information about the project and contact information for them to determine if they would like to participate. This procedure will be repeated for a total of three waves after the seeds, and we are estimating a total sample of 52 interviewees.
Analysis: The interview data will be coded using pre-determined themes as well as mined for emergent themes using the Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK) within the Python programming platform and will betransformed into a comma-delimited database. We will use network analysis to graph the relationships among cases and text to identify types of deradicalization. This will provide a comprehensive understanding of the relationships between individual-level factors (e.g., identity work, motivations) and structural forces (e.g., community and criminal justice organizations, barriers) with disengagement and deradicalization.
Products, Reports, and Data Archiving: We will develop five peer-reviewed manuscripts, numerous practitioner policy briefs and an Exit USA classification instrument; submit regular updates to practitioner associations, and present at two ASC meetings and two practitioner conferences. We will produce a final report and prepare a public use dataset with supporting documentation.