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De-Radicalisation, Social Change and Former Combatants

Conflict Resolution
Extremism
Terrorism
Gordon Clubb
University of Leeds
Marina Tapley
University of Leeds
Gordon Clubb
University of Leeds
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Abstract

The paper conceptualises de-radicalisation as a form of social change, with attitudes to violence and commitment to radical ideologies in society changing. It argues that former combatants and their narratives can play a role in reproducing or transforming attitudes of violence in communities, depending on how disengagement is framed and their network position in society. The paper explores the impact former combatants have had in two societies: Northern Ireland and Nigeria. In Northern Ireland, former combatant networks interacting with young people and having a stake in the political system are incentivised to reframe violence, deglamourising support for past violence. In Nigeria, former combatants have found greater resistance in reintegration, with the narratives of violence and the radical ideology of Boko Haram being discredited and framed as criminally motivated. The paper examines these two cases to illustrate the impact former combatants have on society, identifying types of narratives and networks which can facilitate de-radicalisation within society.