- Subcultural constraint offers a way of interpreting why, despite their extreme rhetoric, some extremist subcultures produce comparatively little violence.
- While terrorism studies has traditionally focused on the causes of terrorism and acts of political violence, research is beginning to address the puzzle of why there is not more terrorism as a consequence of extreme beliefs.
- This report brings together two ideas that may help explain why violence does not emerge in the scale that might be anticipated: the brakes on violent action literature and the Good Lives Model (GLM).
- Both literatures, along with the preceding case study of Siege Culture (see reports one and two in this series) inform the idea of subcultural constraint.
Brakes on Violent Action
- The brakes on violent action literature argues that the reasons why violence is not inevitably produced by extremist groups can be explained by internal brakes which lead participants away from violence. Several brakes have been proposed:
- Strategic – identification of less violent or non-violent strategies thought to be more effective in accomplishing goals.
- Moral – moral norms that inhibit moves towards violence or violence against specific targets such as civilians.
- Ego maintenance – the self-conception of belonging to a group that does not engage in violence including the threat of sanctions for doing so.
- Out-group definition – changing conceptions of the outgroup including towards state security apparatus or segments of the public.
- Organisational - investment or divestment from goals and tools that relate to violence, for example developing a campaigning arm or giving up access to weapons.
- The concept of brakes on violent action has found some traction but researchers have noted the importance of context and the need to expand the brakes that have been identified to new contexts.
- Of note from a subcultural perspective is that such brakes often assume that participants are embedded in hierarchical structures with shared goals and strategies for achieving them. In contrast, subcultures, such as Siege, typically feature actors less tightly organised and have greater individual autonomy.
Good Lives Model (GLM)
- The GLM is a criminological perspective that argues offending emerges when routes to achieving ‘goods’ are blocked.
- The goods the GLM assumes we are motivated by are:
- Life (healthy living)
- Knowledge (being informed about things that are important to us)
- Excellence in play (hobbies and leisure activities)
- Excellence in work (including mastery experiences)
- Excellence in agency (autonomy, power and self-directedness)
- Inner peace (freedom from emotional turmoil and stress)
- Relatedness (including intimate, romantic, and familial relationships)
- Community (connection to wider social groups)
- Spirituality (finding meaning and purpose in life)
- Pleasure (feeling good)
- Creativity (expressing oneself through alternative forms)
- Goods can be accessed in either pro-social or anti-social ways. Where pro-social routes to achieving goods are blocked, anti-social or maladaptive routes become more attractive.
- The GLM recognises that individuals are not just driven by risks and deficits, but are deploying strengths in order to achieve the goods that have come to matter to them.
- It encourages researchers and practitioners to think about the strengths needed to protect against offending, and the consequences when they’re absent, rather than foregrounding the effort to assess and manage risk.
- Incorporating the GLM with the idea of subcultural constraint enables analysis to account for the interaction of meso level factors (i.e., the organisation, community, or group, such as those suggested by the brakes literature) and individual level motivations.
Download this report and two others from this series below:
Busher, J. & Bjorgo, T. (2020) Restraint in terrorist groups and radical milieus: Towards a research agenda. Perspectives on Terrorism, 14(6), 2–13
Busher, J., Holbrook, D., & Macklin, G. (2019a) The Internal Brakes on Violent Escalation: A Descriptive Typology
Busher, J., Holbrook, D., & Macklin, G. (2019b) Internal Brakes On Violence Within The British Extreme Right
Cragin, K., Bradley, M. A., Robinson, E., & Steinberg, P. S. (2016) “What factors cause youth to reject violent extremism? Results of an exploratory analysis in the West Bank. RAND Corporation
Dowling, J. (2020) Pulling the Brakes on Political Violence: How Internal Brakes Limited Violent Escalation from the Provisional IRA in Pre- and Post-Good Friday Northern Ireland. Terrorism & Political Violence. https://doi.org/10.1080/09546553.2023.2198608
Hamm, M. S. (2004) Apocalyptic Violence: The Seduction of Terrorist Subcultures. Theoretical Criminology, 8(3), 323–339. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362480604044612
Horgan, J. (2012) Discussion Point: The End of Radicalization? https://www.start.umd.edu/news/discussion-point-end-radicalization
Morrison, J. (2020) Reality Check: The Real IRA’s Tactical Adaptation and Restraint in the Aftermath of the Omagh Bombing. Perspective on Terrorism, 14:6, 152-164
Ramsay, G. (2012) Cyber-jihad: Ideology, affordance and latent motivations. In P.M. Curry and M. Taylor (Eds). Terrorism and affordance. Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 49-72
Ramsay, G. (2014) Consuming the Jihad: An Enquiry into the Subculture of Internet Jihadism. https://core.ac.uk/reader/13120350
Schuurman, B. (2020) Non-Involvement in Terrorist Violence: Understanding the MostCommon Outcome of Radicalization Processes. Perspectives on Terrorism, 14:6 14-26
Schuurman, B., & Carthy, S. (2023) Understanding (non)involvement in terrorist violence: What sets extremists who use terrorist violence apart from those who do not? Criminology & Public Policy. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1745-9133.12626
Simi, P. & Windisch, S. (2020) The Culture of Violent Talk: An Interpretive Approach. Social Sciences. doi:10.3390/socsci9070120
Wilson, C. & Halpin, J. (2022) Explaining the gap between online violent extremism and offline inaction among far right groups: a study of Action Zealandia from 2019 to 2021. Behavioural Sciences of Terrorism & Political Aggression. https://doi.org/10.1080/19434472.2022.2116075
Youngman, M. (2020) Crossing the Rubicon: The Limits of Insurgent Violence in Kabardino-Balkaria, Perspectives on Terrorism, 14:6 106-121
CASE STUDY BIBLIOGRAPHY
Barradale, G. (2019) The story of Jack Renshaw: The ex-Manchester student and paedophile who plotted a murder. https://thetab.com/uk/2019/05/24/the-story-of-jack-renshaw-the-ex-manchester-student-and-paedophile-who-plotted-a-murder-102505 accessed 4/1/23
Buckby, J. (2020) Monster of Their Own Making: How the Far Left, the Media, and Politicians Are Creating Far-Right Extremists. Bombardier Books
Collins, M. (2013a) Far-right round up. https://hopenothate.org.uk/2013/02/01/far-right-round-up-21/ accessed 17/8/23
Collins, M. (2013b) BNP set to darken Blackpool tomorrow. https://hopenothate.org.uk/2013/09/27/bnp-set-to-darken-blackpool-tomorrow/ accessed 17/8/23
Collins, M. (2013c) Jack’s unhappy. https://hopenothate.org.uk/2013/09/30/jack-s-unhappy/ accessed 17/8/23
Collins, M. (2014a) The ‘Jolly Boys’ have gone to Brussels… https://hopenothate.org.uk/2014/01/07/the-jolly-boys-have-gone-to-brussels/ accessed 17/8/23
Collins, M. (2014b) Griffin pushes ahead with parallel structure. https://hopenothate.org.uk/2014/10/04/griffin-pushes-ahead-with-parallel-structure/ accessed 17/8/23
Collins, M. (2014c) BNP porn baron lays into Juvenile Jack. https://hopenothate.org.uk/2014/12/21/bnp-porn-baron-lays-into-juvenile-jack/ accessed 17/8/23
Collins, M. (2015b) Nasty Nazis fall out (again!). https://hopenothate.org.uk/2015/03/11/nasty-nazis-fall-out-again/ accessed 17/8/23
Collins, M. (2015c) A bad week for fascism ends in arrests and shame. https://hopenothate.org.uk/2015/05/11/a-bad-week-for-fascism-ends-in-arrests-and-shame/ accessed 17/8/23
Collins, M. (2015d) Liverpool didn’t need bullets to shut up the race haters. https://hopenothate.org.uk/2015/08/15/liverpool-didnt-need-bullets-shut-race-haters/ accessed 17/8/23
Collins, M. (2016a) Renshaw calls for nazis to go hunt Jews and ‘eradicate’ them. https://hopenothate.org.uk/2016/05/03/renshaw-calls-for-nazis-to-go-hunt-jews-and-eradicate-them/ accessed 17/8/23
Collins, M. (2016b) Blackpool ignores Jew-hating rally. https://hopenothate.org.uk/2016/03/13/blackpool-ignores-jew-hating-rally/ accessed 17/8/23
Collins, M. (2016c) British nazi calls for a war against Jews. https://hopenothate.org.uk/2016/03/15/british-nazi-calls-for-a-war-against-jews/ accessed 18/8/23
Collins, M. (2017) Whatever happened to…Part IV. https://hopenothate.org.uk/2017/06/14/whatever-happened-part-iv/ accessed 17/8/23
Collins, M. 2015a) When Nazis just want to be friends. https://hopenothate.org.uk/2015/01/26/when-nazis-just-want-to-be-friends/ accessed 17/8/23
Community Security Trust (2020) White Jihad: Jack Renshaw’s Journey from Far-Right Student to Would-Be Terrorist. https://cst.org.uk/public/data/file/6/0/Jack%20Renshaw%20-%20White%20Jihad.pdf
Dearden, L. (2019) Jack Renshaw: Neo-Nazi paedophile who plotted to kill Labour MP jailed for life; Would-be terrorist performed Hitler salute in court as he was led down to cell. The Independent, 17/5/19
Fortune, C. A. & Ward, T. (2017) Problems in protective factor research and practice. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 32, 1-3
Gardner, M (2014) The BNP returns to its roots: Nazi-style antisemitism https://leftfootforward.org/2014/05/the-bnp-returns-to-its-roots-nazi-style-antisemitism/ accessed 4/1/23
McGowan (2019) Regina v Jack Renshaw: Sentencing Remarks of Mrs Justice McGowan. https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/r-v-renshaw-sentence17.5.19.pdf accessed 4/1/23
Perry, K. (2018) The Far-Right Terrorist Who Planned to Murder an MP https://www.vice.com/en/article/ywkzd5/the-baby-faced-far-right-terrorist-who-planned-to-murder-an-mp accessed 4/1/23
The Tab (2014) Fascist fresher makes a swift exit from Warwick Uni. https://thetab.com/2014/06/19/fascist-fresher-makes-a-swift-exit-from-warwick-uni-15468 accessed 5/5/22
As part of CREST’s commitment to open access research, this text is available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence. Please refer to our Copyright page for full details.
IMAGE CREDITS: Copyright ©2023 R. Stevens / CREST (CC BY-SA 4.0)