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So, what exactly is radicalization? (update from the Seminar day 2)

So, what exactly is radicalization? (update from the Seminar day 2)

Words have weight. The very same words, however, can have a different meaning and value for each one of us, depending on our experiences, environment and ideology. The term that dominated the discussions yesterday afternoon was ‘radicalization’.

But what exactly is radicalization?

Our guest expert, Werner Prinzjakowitsch, gave a new perspective to the way we perceive this term in the context of youthwork:

Radicalization is not a fact. It is not a situation. Radicalization is a process. There are various factors allowing radicalization to grow, such as the individual’s sociopsychological state, society, ideology, religion, identity or the social media; none of these parameters, however, works on its own; it is always a combination that leads to radical behaviors.

As our expert explained, radicalization both starts and develops within group dynamics; it gets stronger through personal relationship. Therefore, how can we prevent or reverse a situation before it becomes consolidated? The group discussions leaned towards the same outcome: by following the same path that allows radicalization to grow in the first place, but this time, in order to change the story. In other words, the prevention of radicalization is also a process involving constant and cohesive work, commitment, professionalism and knowledge of the reality of the young people we are working with.

Is radicalization always negative?

Participants discussed that radicalization can also be positive, when it comes to promoting peaceful, democratic or healthy values. As it was said, ‘it is violent radicalization or radicalization leading to extremism and terrorism that should be combatted.

Following these very fruitful discussions, the morning session of the second day was dedicated to good practices for the prevention of radicalization. The floor was given to participants of the seminar, who presented their projects in small groups, using a variety of methods: presentation of research and academic input, interactive workshops using non-formal education techniques, group discussions and video projections.

Tomorrow, theory will turn into practice. Participants will have the opportunity to visit organizations in Tirana and get a taste of grass roots youthwork in the prevention of radicalization from local practitioners.

 

By Mary Drosopu los, PhD (c )

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