62 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2018 Last revised: 6 Mar 2021

See all articles by Jean-Paul Carvalho

Jean-Paul Carvalho

Department of Economics, University of Oxford

Michael Sacks

Clarkson University

Date Written: January 30, 2021


We examine the conditions under which an identity group (e.g. religion, race, social class) can be radicalized over time by a forward-looking organization. A dynamic radicalization strategy is identified in which the organization screens out moderate types and forms a club consisting only of extreme types. This extreme subgroup then radicalizes the entire group by shaping preferences and raising discrimination against group members. While this screening process makes the organization appear weak, it puts the organization on a growth path along which it becomes stronger, larger, and more radical over time. Our model shows how existing counter-radicalization policies, including stigmatizing participation in extreme groups, can backfire and increase radicalization. The radicalization strategy we identify can be disabled by competition among identity-based organizations and informational interventions that eliminate stereotypes.

Keywords: extremism, cultural transmission, economics of religion, discrimination, club goods

JEL Classification: D23, Z12

Suggested Citation

Carvalho, Jean-Paul and Sacks, Michael, Radicalization (January 30, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3297267 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3297267

Jean-Paul Carvalho

Department of Economics, University of Oxford ( email )

10 Manor Rd
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

Michael Sacks (Contact Author)

Clarkson University ( email )

Potsdam, NY 13699
United States

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