From theorizing radicalization to surveillance practices: Muslims in the cross hairs of scrutiny

Leda Blackwood, Nick Hopkins, Stephen Reicher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


There are several psychological analyses of the processes of radicalisation resulting in terrorism. However, we know little about how those in authority (e.g., the police) conceptualise the psychological dynamics to radicalisation. Accordingly, we present a detailed account of an official UK counter-terrorism intervention, the Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent, designed to enlist front-line professionals in identifying and referring those at risk of radicalisation. Specifically, we report data gathered during an observation of this intervention delivered by the police in Scotland. This provides insight into the psychological model of radicalisation being disseminated in the UK and we evaluate the merits of this model in the light of current psychological theory. First, we consider how this model may overlook certain social dynamics relevant to understanding radicalisation. Second, we discuss how this neglect limits consideration of how the surveillance warranted by the official model may lead Muslims to disengage from majority group members. Our analysis points to how political psychology’s analysis of social identities and citizenship can inform public policy and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-612
Number of pages16
JournalPolitical Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date30 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Terrorism
  • Muslims
  • Surveillance
  • Radicalisation
  • Deradicalization


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