55 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2018 Last revised: 17 Aug 2020

See all articles by Jean-Paul Carvalho

Jean-Paul Carvalho

University of California, Irvine - Department of Economics

Michael Sacks

Clarkson University

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

Carvalho, Jean-Paul and Sacks, Michael, Radicalization (August 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3297267 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3297267

Jean-Paul Carvalho

University of California, Irvine - Department of Economics ( email )

3151 Social Science Plaza
Irvine, CA 92697-5100
United States

Michael Sacks (Contact Author)

Clarkson University ( email )

Potsdam, NY 13699
United States

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