Storytelling against Extremism
Cognitive radicalization is characterized by an individual’s acceptance of a certain extremist ideology. It is widely believed that contemporary radicalization processes of both jihadists and right-wing extremists are partially shaped by the narratives and stories extremists postulate in their propaganda. In many cases, the consumption of these narratives takes place in the digital sphere.
Considering that narratives are perceived as crucial for radicalization processes, it is unsurprising that narratives also feature prominently in efforts to prevent and counter (violent) extremism (P/CVE). Narrative campaigns against extremism, often labeled counter-narratives and alternative narratives, have become a prominent yet heavily criticized tool to mitigate the impact of extremist narratives online.
In her dissertation, Linda Schlegel examines an aspect that has been conspicuously absent from the current literature on P/CVE narrative campaigns: How can good storytelling support the persuasive effects of narrative campaigns against extremism? To this end, she transfers insights on narrative persuasion in other contexts such as entertainment-education efforts, to the P/CVE field. The aim is to demonstrate the importance of high-quality storytelling in counter-extremism efforts and show that narratives against extremism can be improved significantly by building upon existing insights on narrative persuasion generally.