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Formative Research on Re-Framing Radicalization

Re-Framing Radicalization

Re-Framing RadicalizationIt’s time to disrupt the countering violent extremism (CVE) field by re-thinking how we engage individuals who land somewhere on the “radicalization” spectrum. To better understand evolving conflict dynamics and to inform the content of our Hausa-language radio platform designed to counter extremist views, Equal Access (EA) conducted baseline research across northern Nigeria, the region most affected by Boko Haram’s violent insurgency.

A central finding from our research is the need to re-frame radicalization in our discourse, research, policies, and programs (including on the radio) to be inclusive and empowering. EA proposes a shift from diagnosing and examining the problem (a deficit-based approach) to developing a shared and inclusive vision (an asset-based or vision-oriented approach) that humanizes and validates actors and grievances on all sides. This is a critical missing component among CVE practitioners.

“Everyone wants more to do, to work, to contribute, but there is nothing (and jobs are impossible to find).” – Male merchant in his 20s, Bauchi state

Our formative research asks: how might “radicalized” individuals contribute to social transformation in non-violent and constructive ways?

We suggest a conceptual pivot away from approaches that only emphasize “de-radicalization” and “countering” violent extremism to approaches that “re-frame radicalization” to take into account human potential, unique leadership abilities, and the predisposition of some “radicals” towards self-efficacy, agency, and empowerment.

We need to partner with communities to identify new pathways for frustrated individuals to engage positively. We suggest, and our radio programs will explore further, that it is possible to re-orient radicalized individuals towards positive social good, such as education, youth empowerment, human rights, peaceful coexistence, social justice, and other forms of civic empowerment. Through original research and innovative media programs, we’re working to develop inclusive and honest dialogues to empower northern Nigerians in creating viable alternatives for at-risk and radicalized youth and strengthening agency and commitment to positive social change.

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