The Alienation and Radicalisation of Youth: A 'New Moral Panic'?

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With recent government(s) concern and media 'amplification' of the increase in youth violence and, especially, relating to young people being 'groomed' to carry out 'terrorist' attacks, this paper will explore the 'dialectic' relationship between global and local structures and how recent developments at each level have contributed to the increased alienation of youth. Using the notion of negative counter modernisation responses and developing Berezin's(2002) concept of 'community of feelings' there will be an examination of the relationship between alienation and 'radicalisation' amongst young people and how this is expressed within an 'ideologically' fragmented world. While 'globally' the world is deemed to be increasingly 'interdependent', 'locally' it is becoming increasingly diverse, paradoxically, in many situations this brings with it community tensions, division and segregation. For many young people within such environments there develops for them a 'contradictory consciousness' which often results in conflict and violence against the perceived 'other' in 'defence' of community, identity, culture and/or way of life. Given that young people are deemed to be both 'victims and perpetrators' of acts of violence this paper will ask whether, or why, locally, nationally or internationally young people represent a real threat to societal processes or is this simply a 'new' or contemporary 'moral panic'?


Keywords: Youth and Young People, Moral Panic and Violence, Alienation and Radicalisation, Counter Modernisation Processes, 'Community of Feelings', Emotions and Contradictory Consciousness
Stream: Nations, Nationalism, Communities
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Alienation and Radicalisation of Youth, The


Dr. Alan Grattan

Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences, University of Southampton
Southampton, Hampshire, UK

My main research interests include young people and political participation as well as 'communities in conflict' and the processes of post conflict reconstruction and reconciliation. Additionally, I am interested in the role of 'emotions' in the realm of conflict and within acts of communal and political violence. I was a member of the 'Youth Work in Contested Spaces' Project which was a joint project with the University of Ulster, Youth Council for Northern Ireland and Public Achievement. This was a three year partnership project involving academics, policy makers and practitioners. The project involved researching and sharing ideas on working with young people in conflict and post conflict environments. This project has taken my research to South Africa, Israel and Palestine, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia as well as Northern Ireland.
Previously I was a Junior Research Fellow at the Instiute of Irish Studies at the Queen's University of Belfast as well as teaching Sociology and Irish Studies at St. Mary's University College, Twickenham, UK and Community Studies at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. Before entering higher education as a lecturer I worked on many anti-sectarian and diversity projects as a community education organisor in Belfast, Northern Ireland throughout the period of conflict. I am now a lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Southampton,UK.

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