Dissociation Processes in Islamist Extremism: A Systematizing Survey of Parameters for Self- and External Observation in Three Dimensions

Background of the DISLEX 3D project

Families, friends, teachers, practitioners of prevention work and last but not least the affected people themselves: The list of those who can influence distancing processes from extremist ideologies, attitudes and groups is long. The same applies to the list of people who consciously or unconsciously observe such processes. Nevertheless, research on the observation of distancing processes in 2019 is still largely based on the narratives of dropouts themselves – which in turn have often been optimized in terms of “publishability.”

But what processes and influencing factors are forgotten in such one-dimensional observational accounts? Which factors are – consciously or unconsciously – left out of the descriptions by the post-rationalizations of the people themselves?

In order to counter both the rather anecdotal and subjective nature of the predominant self-experiential accounts and the additional observational dimensions omitted in these accounts with initial empirical results, we developed DISLEX 3D.

Focus and Benefits of DISLEX 3D

The DISLEX 3D project broadens the perspective to include not only the self-observations of affected people but also the dimensions of observation by the systemic environment as well as those of professional accompaniment by practitioners of radicalization prevention. Such a broadening of perspectives makes it possible to conduct a qualitative survey and subsequent systematization of the parameters for observing distancing processes in the field of Islamist extremism that is as broad as possible and appropriate to the complexity.

In summary, the following research questions arise within the framework of DISLEX 3D:

On the basis of which specific parameters, evaluation criteria, and implicit theories…

1. do practitioners of distancing work observe processes of individual (cognitive or habitual) distancing from extremist ideologies or environments in their work?

2. Do distancing or distanced (formerly) radicalized individuals retrospectively observe the process of their individual distancing?

3. Does the systemic environment of the individual observe the process of individual distancing?

– How does the interplay of the observation of the above-mentioned dimensions take shape and in which form do they reciprocally refer to each other?

Cooperation partners of DISLEX 3D

In order to complement its own perspective in a meaningful way, DISLEX 3D cooperates in an intensive exchange with the MAPEX joint project (Mapping and Analysis of Prevention and Distancing Projects in Dealing with Islamist Radicalization) coordinated by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence at Bielefeld University (IKG).

DISLEX 3D’s practice partner is Violence Prevention Network gGmbH, a nationwide provider of extremism prevention. By cooperating with experienced practitioners of this organization, it is possible to ensure that the research results are elaborated, processed and disseminated in a way that is adapted to the needs of practice. Thus, DISLEX 3D aims to break down the existing dichotomy between researchers and researched in the sense of the modus|zad idea, in order to be able to support the practice of radicalization prevention in a problem-oriented way.

The DISLEX 3D project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth as part of the federal program “Live Democracy!“.