Varieties of Countering Violent Extremism: How Culture Shapes Perception, Policy, and Programs
Westphal, Nicole Balkind
Byman, Daniel L
The last ten years have tested Europe’s counterterrorism agencies like no time before. To meet this challenge, more than half of EU member states have established Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs. Despite the policy emphasis on CVE programs, formal and rigorous evaluation is a rare and nascent practice. Since governments cannot base their decisions on systematic, empirical evidence, the question naturally arises—in this policy area with limited resources and a high cost of failure, what factors determine a country’s CVE policy? This dissertation employs an actor-based theory of evolution layered over a foundation of path-dependent behavior shaped by political culture to answer this question.This dissertation offers a novel way to examine the policy process underpinning CVE in Europe and contributes new insights to the literature on CVE, security policy, and decision-making processes in the EU. Specifically, it advances previous work that looked at state responses to terrorism and the influence of epistemic communities. Of scholarly work on CVE programs, very little examines cross-national variation, and nearly none of it examines the drivers of policy choices. This project addresses these deficiencies with theoretical and empirical contributions.This dissertation analyzes the factors that shaped national-level frameworks for terrorism prevention and explains the variation in European CVE strategies. It relies on evidence from 70 interviews of CVE experts, policymakers, and practitioners in eight European countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden), alongside process tracing and social network analysis.It posits a two-level theory for how countries react to a terrorism threat, explaining cross-national variation and policy evolution. When faced with a new problem, countries respond in a path-dependent manner and rely on norms. These norms determine the characteristics, structure, and function of the policy. However, as time progresses, experts emerge, develop evidence-based policy positions, and form epistemic communities. This influence is then able to modify the path-dependent effect of political culture preference. This research finds strong evidence that norms determined CVE policies in European countries. The evolution of these policies is explained by the influence of a CVE epistemic community through shared beliefs and policy diffusion.
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An Interdisciplinary Framework to Assess the Radicalization of Youth Towards Violent Extremism Across Cultures Costanza, William Anthony (Georgetown University, 2012)The search to understand contemporary terrorism has led researchers to increasingly focus their attention on the radicalization process as a means to gain insight into how individuals become susceptible to recruitment by ...