Radicalization

51 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2018 Last revised: 17 Oct 2019

See all articles by Jean-Paul Carvalho

Jean-Paul Carvalho

University of California, Irvine - Department of Economics

Michael Sacks

University of Louisville - College of Business - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 16, 2019

Abstract

Identity-based organizations coordinate forms of collective action that strengthen group identity (e.g. religion, race). Under what conditions can such an organization radicalize an identity group, mobilizing moderate individuals into a strict club with intensive participation in identity-based activities? We identify two paths to radicalization, based on cultural evolutionary theory: Prestige-biased cultural transmission occurs when active group members enjoy greater prestige and cultural influence within the group. Niche construction occurs when identity-based participation induces blanket discrimination against the identity group. By raising the group's identification and reducing its outside options, these forces produce a strict club which grows and becomes more extreme over time. Stigmatizing participation can backfire and spur radicalization under certain conditions. Fears of extremism can be self-perpetuating. Competition among identity-based organizations limits radicalization. We apply our model to Muslim communities in Europe and set out principles for 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 (October 16, 2019). 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)

University of Louisville - College of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

Louisville, KY 40292
United States

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