Analysing 'radicalisation' in historical cases

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


As a field of intellectual enquiry, radicalisation belongs to the dawn of the 21st century: emerging in response to new trends in political violence that demanded explanation. It might therefore seem to be an unpromising candidate for deeper historical interrogation. Yet the attempt to trace a long pre-history to radicalisation still seems worth making. Down the centuries, new patterns of political violence have repeatedly, if irregularly, emerged that startled contemporaries. Their attempts to make sense of them indicate some rather striking continuities. When such violence was committed by very small groups or individuals, contemporary commentators down the centuries tended to reach for ‘common sense’ explanations, such as top-down elite conspiracies or reckless attention-seeking by disturbed individuals. A lack of curiosity in investigating perpetrators’ own worldviews on their own terms is a notable feature of our ancestors’ response to the processes we now tend to call ‘radicalisation’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge handbook on radicalisation and countering radicalisation
EditorsJoel Busher, Leena Malkki, Sarah Marsden
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781003035848
ISBN (Print)9780367476847, 9781032573809
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2023

Publication series

NameRoutledge handbooks


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