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Neoliberal Terror? The Radicalisation of Social Policy in Europe

Watch our documentary film on the impacts of being referred to Prevent, on individuals and families. This film was made through collaboration with Preventwatch and explores the experiences of four families.

Question 1: What is the scope of the project? How are health and social care workers involved in counter-terrorism?


In many countries, doctors, nurses and social workers are asked to report clients they feel might be radicalising. As this is not a traditional professional duty for care professionals, the Neoliberal Terror project will investigate how and why national security has become part of the professional duties of health and social care workers.

We will study the history of crime prevention in Europe, with particular emphasis on programs which work with non-offenders to reduce their risk of becoming criminal. We will then study how these criminal policy agendas merged with counter-radicalisation in the twenty-first century.

Question 2: To what extent have International Organisations facilitated the travel of radicalisation discourse and P/CVE policies between nations?


The United Nations, OSCE and European Union all became involved with counter-radicalisation policies at different points. The OSCE, within its mandate for East-West relations and security in the Caucasus region and beyond, was an early forum for the discussion of 'soft' terrorism prevention, democratisation and radicalisation between policymakers. Other International Organisations have been more reactive to the development of CVE policies in Western European nations.
Our timelines for each organisation's turn from traditional counter-terrorism policies to CVE (and the context in which this happened) can be found here: UN TimelineLink opens in a new window * OSCE Timeline * Council of Europe * EU Timeline

Question 3: Is 'preventive' policy associated with neoliberal economics?


In Critical Criminology, the argument is often made that neoliberal economics underpins the turn to risk-based, preventive policy. However, these studies commonly only look at penal policies in the USA, Canada and the UK. Our study has explored the use of prevention policy across Europe - as well as in North America. We are undertaking a quantitative analysis of the amount of counter-radicalisation programs in 40 countries, to test what drives their implementation.

Our initial results show no association between neoliberal economic policy and the amount of counter-radicalisation implemented within a state. Other factors (such as the recent experience of terrorist attacks, and the size of minority ethnic populations) have a stronger association with the implementation of prevention policy.

Question 4: Who are the Team?


The Primary Investigator: Professor Charlotte Heath-Kelly Previous projects: Counter-radicalisation within the UK's NHS (Wellcome Trust funded). Also led projects funded by ESRC and the Leverhulme Trust, and is currently collaborating with colleagues on projects funded by the University of Sheffield and the Norwegian Research Council.

Dr Sadi Shanaah completed PhD at the Department of Political Science at Aarhus University, and joins us as the Quantitative Research Fellow on the team.

Dr Shahnaz Akhter. Shahnaz is a postdoctoral researcher and widening participation officer for the Department of Politics and International Studies.