Assembling and deconstructing radicalisation in PREVENT: A case of policy-based evidence making?

Gabe Mythen, Sandra Walklate, Elizabeth Jane Peatfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


In the last 15 years the concept of radicalisation has come to prominence as a means of explaining the process by which individuals become attracted to extremist ideology and endorse the actions of terrorist groups. Post 9/11, radicalisation has gained traction in policy, political and media circles in Britain, being commonly connected to the threat of ‘home-grown’ terrorism. In this article, we critique the understanding of radicalisation outlined in the UK Government’s PREVENT strategy. We focus specifically on how particular understandings of radicalisation are constructed, evidenced and operationalised in PREVENT and the way in which these understandings align with party political worldviews. It is posited that an unremitting focus on the role of religious ideology in the process of radicalisation within PREVENT mutes recognition of otherwise important material grievances expressed by individuals involved in violent extremism. At a broader level, our analysis adds to growing concerns around the deleterious impacts of the securitisation of social policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-201
Number of pages22
JournalCritical Social Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • counter-terrorism
  • preventing violent extremism
  • radicalisation
  • security policy

Cite this