61 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2018 Last revised: 1 Oct 2022
Date Written: September 30, 2022
To analyze the mechanisms behind radicalization and the design of counter-radicalization policies, we study a population (or subpopulation) known as the identity group that derives meaning from participation in identity-based activities. A forward-looking organization provides a platform (i.e., club) for these activities. By dynamically tuning its membership requirements, the organization determines both current participation and the future share of radicals. The warning sign for radicalization is cultural purification, i.e., the screening out of moderates and exclusive recruitment of radicals. While this shrinks the club, it puts it on a growth path along which it becomes larger and more extreme over time. Conventional counter-radicalization policies can backfire and fuel this process of radicalization. The organization can itself boost radicalization through outreach and by inducing discrimination against group members. The radicalization mechanisms we identify can be disabled by mild anti-radical messaging and informational interventions that eliminate stereotypes.
Keywords: extremism, cultural transmission, economics of religion, discrimination, club goods
JEL Classification: D23, Z12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation