U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Deradicalization: A Review of the Literature With Comparison to Findings in the Literatures on Deganging and Deprogramming

NCJ Number
Madeline Morris; Frances Eberhard; Jessica Rivers; Michael Watsula
Date Published
May 2010
13 pages
This research brief reviews the literature on deradicalization and evaluates the methodology of deradicalization programs based on the research that identifies individual motivations for entering and leaving terrorist organizations.
Deradicalization programs seek to induce the disengagement of terrorists from terrorist activities. This literature review found that the literatures on deradicalization, deganging, and deprogramming each indicate the primary importance of affiliative factors in individual motivations for entry into and exit from these organizations. Yet, none of the disengagement programs effectively addresses those affiliative motivations that are found to influence entry and exit decisions. Instead, the disengagement programs focus largely, but not exclusively, on ideological disputation or on more generalized social regulation, including crime control. Five recommendations are offered. First, systematic research should be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of existing deradicalization programs and to identify the factors that contribute to or diminish their effectiveness. Second, research is needed on the causes, consequences, and remedies for the observed disconnect between the motivations for participation in terrorist organizations and the methodologies used in the deradicalization programs. Third, research should determine the effects of detention on the processes of both radicalization and disengagement. Fourth, although the literature suggests that ideological factors are not of primary significance in motivating individuals' entry into or exit from terrorist organizations, the cognitive dissonance that may be encountered by the abandonment of such beliefs may be among the factors that could inhibit exit by a person whose other motives for participation have waned. Research is required to determine whether and how such an inhibiting factor operates and whether it can be prevented or mitigated. Fifth, research is required to ascertain the effects of a variety of conditions for release from incarceration. 49 references