07 SES 05.5 PS, General Poster Session - NW 07
General Poster Session
The threat of terrorism is seen as one of the most pressing societal security concerns of the early 21st century. With growing pressure on policymakers and intelligence communities to prevent threats of violent extremism and terrorism, contemporary security strategies have in recent years been expanded to include a wide range of non-military actors (Buzan, et al., 1998). Schools are particularly viewed as well-placed arenas for detecting and disrupting pathways to extremism, and subsequently, the Norwegian government recently introduced security policies that detail the role of education in preventing radicalization (Action Plan, 2014). Although the intertwinement of security and education finds broad support across the political spectrum, little evidence is readily available on the effectiveness and consequences of preventing radicalization in schools (Aly, et al., 2014; Durodie, 2016).
A significant reason for the increased attention on educational prevention is usually found within student demographics. A prevailing claim among terrorism scholars is that the target groups most vulnerable to radicalization are youth and young adults (Christmann, 2012; Silke, 2008). With schools constituting the greatest common factor for young individuals, educators are given a great responsibility for the upbringing and wellbeing of its students. This includes safeguarding them from personal adversity including feelings of isolation and deprivations, which are believed to be potential paths to radicalization (King & Taylor, 2011).
Another important explanation for the increased preventive focus in schools pertains to the role of education towards learning, socialization and subjectivation of young lives (Biesta, 2015). Education in most democratic societies is interpreted as a moral enterprise, and it holds long traditions as a social stabilizer against civil or political unrest (Dewey, 2010). Contemplating the potential impact that schools can have on the lives of young individuals, educators should purposefully assist students with strengthening their individual capacities, tolerance for others and social cohesion (Davies, 2014). The focus on human rights teachings and citizenship education in the development of well-functioning individuals is thus seen as a key factor in steering students away from unwanted trajectories (Aly, et al., 2014).
Notwithstanding the consensus on schools to educate, socialize and safeguard young lives, a linkage from these objectives to the prevention of radicalization and extremism remains ambiguous. Prevention efforts are underdeveloped and skeptical voices argue that increased securitization may oppose fundamental values in schools (Durodie, 2016). It seems vital that schools must therefore try and find a balance between tensions of providing security; whilst also ensuring that democratic ideals of liberty, tolerance and inclusion are maintained.
Researching the prevention of radicalization in the context of schools, this paper draws on the narratives of selected educators in Norwegian secondary education. The main objective of this research was to investigate how educators perceive their role in preventing radicalization and furthermore, explore what measures they in fact carry out. Another important objective was to analyze potential tensions between core educational values and security strategies in schools. This project raises the research question of how are threats of radicalization perceived and prevented by selected educators in Norwegian secondary education. Frameworks for analysis include securitization theory (Buzan, et al., 1998), educational theories, particularly on citizenship education (Biesta, 2015; Davies, 2014) and radicalization theories (Bjørgo & Horgan, 2009; Borum, 2011).
This qualitative research holds an exploratory nature, and it draws on data collected in 2017, based on semi-structured interviews with thirty-three educators in Norway. We used non-probability method (Bryman, 2008) to sample informants from both upper and lower secondary schools, and selections were made as to represent schools from small- and medium sized towns and cities from most major regions in Norway. Semi-structured interviews were also carried out with social workers and practitioners from community services in an attempt to capture a more comprehensive understanding of radicalization prevention contexts. Our data was analyzed by the use of NVivo software through the combining of thematic analysis and narrative analysis. The deliberate choice of combining these distinct but complementary strategies (Maxwell, 2009), was to bridge thematic analysis which looks across cases, highlighting commonalities and differences between the datasets, with narrative analysis, which gives more emphasizes on how language is used, by whom and in what context. The national ethical review board for social sciences approved the research project.
We find through the educators’ narratives that the prevention of radicalization has become integrated in their professional pedagogical practice. Most informants express, albeit in varied degree, awareness on issues of radicalization. Few informants had personal experience with radicalization as we anticipated, as it is arguably a “restricted” phenomenon. The increased awareness was foremost described as a consequence of heightened attention in media. While our findings reveal that the issue of preventing radicalization has been securitized within the selected schools, most informants believe that this prevention is best carried out within the ordinary confines of education. Furthermore, these narratives reveal a professional duty to safeguard students from radicalization by reducing risk factors of personal adversity, marginalization, social exclusion and feelings of deprivations. It is evident that the informants favor soft prevention efforts of increased dialogue, strengthened resilience, social cohesion and collaboration with families and communities. Although most informants favor prevention through safeguarding of students, the politicized connotations of “radicalization” seems to constrain some professional activism. This is evident through the increased societal focus on framing immigrant and particularly Muslim students as vulnerable to radicalization. Monitoring students based on religion or culture is certainly worrisome and it undermines democratic values of individual freedom and tolerance (Kundnani, 2009). Furthermore, many informants believe that the characterization of young individuals, whether they adhere to radical ideas or not, as “suspects”, is a contested pedagogical approach. Our work finds that the Norwegian counterterrorism discourse can have implications for the professional practitioner. There is especially reluctance among the informants towards the increasing securitization of education. Considering the requirements for educators to build arenas for socialization and learning, schools should rather emphasize inclusive environments characterized by mutual trust and respect, where educators and students can interact even on contested issues.
Action Plan (2014). Action plan against Radicalization and Violent Extremism. Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security. Aly, A., Taylor, E. & Karnovsky, S. (2014). Moral disengagement and building resilience to violent extremism: An education intervention. Studies in Conflict transformation. Vol. 37, No. 4, pp. 369-385. Biesta, G.J.J. (2015). Good Education in an Age of Measurement. Ethics, Politics, Democracy. New York: Routledge. Bjørgo, T. & Horgan, J. (2009). Leaving terrorism behind: Individual and Collective Disengagement. New York: Routledge. Borum, R. (2011). Radicalization into Violent Extremism I: A Review of Social Science Theories, Journal of Strategic Security. Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 7-36. Bryman, A. (2008). Social Research Methods. New York: Oxford University Press. Buzan, B., Wæver, O. & Wilde, J.D. (1998). Security: A New Framework for Analysis. London: Boulder. Christmann, K. (2012). Preventing Religious Radicalisation and Violent Extremism: A Systematic Review of the Research Evidence. Research Report. Youth Justice Board. Davies, L. (2014). Unsafe Gods. Security, secularism and schooling. London: Institute of Education Press & Trentham book. Dewey, J. (2010). Democracy and education. Milton Keynes: Lightning Source. Durodie, B. (2016). Securitising education to prevent terrorism or losing direction. British Journal of Educational Science. Vol. 64, No. 1, pp. 21-35. Gearon, L. (2013). The counter terrorist classroom. Religion, education and security. Religious Education. Vol. 108, No. 2, pp. 129-147. King, M. & Taylor, D.M. (2011). The Radicalization of Homegrown Jihadists: A Review of Theoretical Models and Social Psychological Evidence. Terrorism and Political Violence. Vol. 23, No. 4, 602-622. Kundnani, A. (2009). Radicalisation: the journey of a concept. Race & Class, Vol. 54, No, 2, pp. 3-25. Maxwell, J. A. (2009). Designing a Qualitative Study. (eds.), In L. Bickman & D. J. Rog. The SAGE Handbook of Applied Social Research Methods. London: Sage. Silke, A. (2008). Research on terrorism. (eds.), Trends, achievements and failures. New York: Taylor and Francis.
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