There is no consensus on what violent extremism is and how best to prevent or counter it. The term ‘violent extremism’ has become a catch-all for a number of phenomena, and there is considerable variation in how terminology is used. Violent extremism conflates belief and use of force. Critics also see the use of ‘extremist’ as always politically motivated: it can be used to denounce those that threaten the political status quo. However, its use to describe primarily Islamist groups has obscured the fact that extremist beliefs and support for violence are found across different cultures, religions, and political situations.
This topic guide introduces conceptual and practical approaches to violent extremism in different contexts. It introduces explanations of violent extremism put forward by different disciplines, how these approach the study of violent extremism and prominent myths and contradictions.