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What are the factors that make communities vulnerable to, or resistant against, the emergence of radicalising settings?

7 March 2012

Amy Thornton

While radicalisation is a topic which has received much academic attention since the terrorist bombings of 9/11, there is little in the way of empirical research within the field. Individual factors of radicalisation are often focussed upon, but the emergence of settings which support radicalisation is yet to be adequately explored. By attempting to discover these settings, and understand the socio-economic, demographic, and community settings in which they emerge, or indeed are prevented from emerging, this research aims to contribute to the knowledge on radicalisation in order to understand and perhaps help prevent it. 

Surveying members of vulnerable communities, or communities where radicalisation has already occurred, will help to shape our understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of these communities. Adding these to detailed inquiries of radicals who have been convicted of terrorism offences will enrich this further. By using environmental criminological theory alongside computer analysis tools such as GIS software and agent-based modelling, a flexible and multi-layered model will be built allowing the testing of hypothesis and the development of more.

This model will be able to be altered to represent any community within the UK or even wider world, and be used to examine the possible emergence of radicalisation within it. The model will also be flexible enough to be used to explore other issues such as gang formation and cult membership.