Lightning Talk 1

Chair: Paul Taylor

LT1, Wednesday 20th, 1230-1400

Domenico Galimi

Lecturer | University of Bath Spa

A Biosocial Criminology approach to White Collar Crime, biological interactions and consequences in the Law

Session: Lightning Talks #1 – LT1

Biosocial Criminology is enjoying a small, but significant, resurgence in popularity. The mapping of the Human Genome has allowed humanity to understand aspects of our nature that wouldn’t be possible to understand before. White Collar Crime has been examined by academia, research and legislators since Edwin Sutherland firstly defined it. Results have been inconsistent: inadequate research and even less adequate criminal sanctions against it. Biosocial criminology unavoidably accepts that human behaviour is the product of a complex interaction of environmental and biological influences. But at the same time, it also aims to enlighten researchers on biological influences in a way that doesn’t refuse evidence on the basis of Political Correctness taken to the extreme.

This paper wants to tackle the above issue from a critical, theoretical point of view, as a foundation for future research. It aims to challenge the traditional view held by most editors, that biology, law and criminology do not fit together. Specifically, it aims to examine the neuro-psychological interactions in white collar criminals. Especially the statement often made “I couldn’t stop”. Is this true on a biological level? And if true, should it influence lawmakers, juries and magistracy? Is leniency an inevitable consequence of better understanding?

James Hewitt

PhD | University of St Andrews

Rebel loyalties

Session: Lightning Talks #1 – LT1

This research focuses on the concept of loyalty in the context of non-state armed actors. It explores how loyalties are developed, reinforced, interpreted and demonstrated by those involved in militant organisations.

Furthermore, this research uncovers what may influence an individual’s loyalties at different stages of their involvement. This includes not only internal organisational practices and experiences but also considers factors external to the organisation that may impact loyalties, such as the presence or absence of rival organisations. By placing loyalty at the centre of analysis, this research provides conceptual and theoretical insights on a topic that has up to now received very little scholarly attention.

While many studies seek to explain what drives individuals to engage in or disengage from political violence, the research presented here offers a more nuanced understanding of who or what individuals are loyal to and what causes those loyalties to develop and change. Through analysis of Kurdish militant groups in Turkey, Iraq and Syria as case studies, this research should be of interest to academics and practitioners interested in organisational dynamics of non-state armed actors involved in insurgency, guerrilla warfare or terrorism.

Shengnan Liu

Postdoctoral Researcher | Lancaster University

An Automated Assessment of Hybrid Identities in Online Extremist Communities

Session: Lightning Talks #1 – LT1

The recent rise in online influence of hybrid communities - communities characterised by ideological mutations - necessitates a different approach to investigate their influence. The proposed study investigates the dynamic nature of hybrid eco-fascist identities and elucidates their influence in naturalistic settings. Driven by the social identity approach, this study trains and validates a model based on the Automated Social Identity Assessment toolkit (ASIA, Koschate et al., 2021), which leverages machine learning and natural language processing, to automatically assess which identity (eco or fascist) is situationally salient. This allows us to examine the dynamic interplay of these identities over time, and the role that linguistic style plays in the expression of the ecological and the fascist identities in eco-fascist movements.

To train the model, the study used Reddit data form environmental and far-right forums that were publicly available for the period 2016-2020. Once trained, ASIA was applied to public data from Reddit eco-fascist forums. The results suggest prototypical linguistic patterns of both identities and interesting patterns of influence associated with switching between the two identities. Findings highlight that naturally occurring data provide new insights into the emergence of hybrid groups, and the way these groups engineer social influence.

Co-authors:Anastasia Kordoni, Mark Levine, Lancaster University; Miriam Koschate-Reis, University of Exeter.


Rachel Monaghan

Professor | CTPSR, Coventry University

From terrorist groups to organised crime gangs: the (de)securitisation of violent non-state political actors in Northern Ireland

Session: Lightning Talks #1 – LT1

Throughout the course of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, a number of political actors including the state were engaged in a conflict lasting some 30 years, which saw more than 3,600 lives lost. The signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in April 1998 and its endorsement by voters north and south of the Irish border appears on the surface at least to signal a political solution to Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’. However, violent non-state political actors still exist in Northern Ireland and yet they are largely not considered in the same vein as their pre-peace process manifestations and counterparts.

Through the lens of the Copenhagen School of Security Studies’ theories on securitisation and (de)securitisation, and utilising a qualitative methodology, namely discourse analysis the emerging research is concerned with the perceived security issues arising from violent non-state political actors and the process through which these security issues have been (de)securitised in post-conflict Northern Ireland. In doing so, the emerging research examines primary sources to understand the process of moving a previously securitised issue of violent non-state political actors (e.g. terrorist groups) to an issue (e.g. organised crime gangs) outside of the security sphere.

Co-authors:Dr Gabrielle Nugent-Stephens, Coventry University

Anne Peterscheck

PhD | St. Andrews University

Discursive practices of perpetrators of misogynistic violence

Session: Lightning Talks #1 – LT1

This research explores the discursive practices leveraged by the proponents and perpetrators of misogynistic violence to justify their actions. More specifically, this research takes a case study approach with a comparative analysis between two manifestations of misogynistic violence: incel violence and intimate partner violence (IPV).

This comparative analysis is rooted in the recognition of the patriarchal context in which incel violence and IPV take place, regardless of whether these forms of violence take place in public or behind closed doors. The data collection is a virtual ethnography, supplemented with interviews. The data analysis takes the form of a feminist critical discourse analysis. 

Aside from gaining a more nuanced understanding of incel violence, this research allows us to suggest the concept of the patriarchy as a useful lens to understand gendered violence within terrorism studies and gain a better understanding of how misogyny operates in society. This research also considers what lessons can be learnt for policy and interventions for misogynistic violence.

Nadine Salman

Senior Research Associate | Lancaster University

A Systematic Review of Neurodiversity, Vulnerability, and Risk in the Context of Violent Extremism

Session: Lightning Talks #1 – LT1

There is currently no evidence that neurodevelopmental disorders are directly related to engagement in criminality or violent extremism. However, just as they exist in the general population, neurodiverse individuals also exist in criminal and violent extremist populations. Within these individuals, specific symptoms of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may contextualise vulnerability to such engagement.

This systematic review aims to synthesise existing knowledge on the functional role of ASD and ADHD in the context of vulnerability to violent extremism, radicalisation, and resilience. By synthesising what is known from a variety of different fields and publication sources, this review aims to provide the best available evidence to help to inform practice and future research in the field.

The findings from this review will have important implications for how neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly ASD, are understood in the context of vulnerability to violent extremism, and how practitioners can best support and manage risk for those with neurodevelopmental needs. Finally, it will provide recommendations for future avenues of research.

Co-authors: Zainab Al-Attar, University of Central Lancashire

Chloe Squires

PhD | University of St Andrews

What factors influence differential treatment of defendants in criminal justice system?

The impact of gender stereotypes on the prosecution of terrorists in England.

Session: Lightning Talks #1 – LT1

In the face of well documented rising participation of women in terrorism, anecdotal evidence suggests that women are not prosecuted at the same rate as men. What are the reasons for this? This talk will offer an initial interpretation of the preliminary findings of this doctoral research which suggests that there are factors - beyond the fact that fewer women engage in terrorism – that explain differential treatment of male and female defendants. Through an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on substantive, conceptual and theoretical perspectives from law and international relations, the study examines processes of agency attribution to explore why men and women might be treated differently by the courts.

The research takes account of men and women’s experiences by analysing the outcomes of terrorism trials and the discourses present in court proceedings, alongside interviews with legal practitioners, and examining government data. The project therefore explores patterns of prosecution and the implicit biases which may influence how the criminal justice system treats terrorism offenders. In conjunction with mounting evidence suggesting that terrorist organisations use gendered assumptions to their advantage, this research has important scholarly and real-world implications.

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