Over the past twenty years, research on political extremism and terrorism has become one of the fastest growing sub-fields within criminology. This rapid growth is reminiscent of the early years of criminology itself, characterized by energy, imagination and creativity but at the same time a specialization struggling to collect and analyze valid data, apply appropriate research methods and develop coherent theoretical frameworks. In this paper, we take stock of these developments by considering a basket of micro- and macro-level risk factors that have been frequently linked to the decision to engage in violent extremism. Following a review of risk factors, we consider major definitional, theoretical, data and methodological challenges and also progress made. Prior criminological research on violent extremism has focused especially on micro-level characteristics and few studies to date have integrated micro and macro determinants to explain extremist outcomes. However, with the growing availability of data, including open-source databases, paired with the application of more sophisticated statistical methods, we expect to see more robust results in the years ahead.
LaFree, Gary, and Anina Schwarzenbach. 2021. "Micro and macro-level risk factors for extremism and terrorism: Toward a criminology of extremist violence." Monatsschrift für Kriminologie und Strafrechtsreform (August). https://doi.org/10.1515/mks-2021-0127