55 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2018 Last revised: 17 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 15, 2020
Drawing on cultural evolutionary theory, we identify two new factors in the formation of radical groups: (1) Prestige-biased cultural transmission and (2) Niche construction. These factors enable organizations to use dynamic radicalization strategies that activate and strengthen powerful forms of identification (e.g. religion, race). Stigmatizing participation in such a group can backfire and increase radicalization under certain conditions. Fears of extremism can be self-fulfilling. Competition among identity-based organizations limits radicalization. We apply our model to the case of European Muslims, identify problems with existing cultural policies, and set out an alternative approach to preventing radicalization.
Keywords: extremism, cultural transmission, economics of religion, discrimination, club goods
JEL Classification: D23, Z12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation