Violent political conflict is a ubiquitous phenomenon in the modern world, being present in classic interstate conflicts, both classic and modern civil war settings, insurgencies, and in terrorism, both domestic and international. Traditionally, most political violence has been localized in the same geographic region as the conflict with which it is associated. International terrorism, in which the target and the attacker are from different nations, is a significant exception to this pattern.
Violent radicalization that leads citizens of a country to support and commit terrorist acts promoting a foreign entity’s political agenda is a distinctly modern thread of violent political behavior with few antecedents in history. Understanding how this phenomenon emerged and its current status requires spanning multiple scales, from why and how individuals become radicalized, why and how organizations use this tactic or how groups of radicalized individuals operate, and how this trend departs from or follows other global patterns in terrorism.
Past work on terrorism has traditionally focused on micro- or meso-levels of analysis, leaning heavily on game theoretic or cultural models of individual and/or organizational decision making, and on using social network theory to understand how personal or cultural factors influence individuals. A more recent thread of research draws heavily on ideas from physics and complex systems as it focuses on more macro-level patterns. Due in part to differences in the type of questions these approaches are best positioned to address, relatively little work has focused on bridging these scales.
In this workshop, we aim to begin connecting micro-, meso-, and macro-level models and phenomena, by bringing together experts for different levels to develop new models, data sets, conceptual frameworks, and projects to address radicalization in Western democracies and explore the feasibility of establishing a research collaboration and writing a joint grant proposal.