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Addicted to Hate: Identity Residual Among Former White Supremacists

NCJ Number
American Sociological Review Volume: 82 Issue: 6 Dated: August 2017 Pages: 1167-1187
Date Published
August 2017
21 pages
This study examined how a rejected identity can persist despite a desire to change, using data from a unique set of in-depth life history interviews with 89 former U.S. white supremacists, as well as theories derived from recent advances in cognitive sociology.

The process of leaving deeply meaningful and embodied identities can be experienced as a struggle against addiction, with continuing cognitive, emotional, and physiological responses that are involuntary, unwanted, and triggered by environmental factors. The current study found that disengagement from white supremacy was characterized by substantial lingering effects that subjects described as addiction. The study includes a discussion of the implications of identity residual for understanding how people leave and for theories of the self.

Date Published: August 1, 2017