The "problem" of radicalisation in the Australian Government' policy text "Preventing Violent Extremism and Radicalisation in Australia"

Year: 2016

Author: Mayes, Eve, Low, Remy, Mockler, Nicole

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

While radical change agendas have been historically pursued by a diverse range of political parties and actors, the term “radical” has, in recent history, become discursively collapsed with violent extremism (Richards, 2011; Stampnitzky, 2013). To be young and “radical” has become synonymous with “at risk” (Coppock & McGovern, 2014; Kundnani, 2012). This paper examines the mobilisation and movement of the concept of “radical” in the booklet Preventing Violent Extremism and Radicalisation in Australia (PVERA), published through the Attorney-General’s Department (Commonwealth of Australia, 2015) as part of the Living Safe Together Australian Government policy strategy, and sent to community organisations and schools. This paper asks, How does the PVERA policy document constitute the problem of radicalisation and its solution(s)? Employing a pluralist critical methodological approach, with resources from radical democratic theories (e.g. Mouffe, 1999), intersectional and critical race theories (e.g. Yuval-Davis, 2011) and the politics of emotion and affect (e.g. Ahmed, 2004, Massumi, 2015), this paper interrogates how radicalisation is constituted as a problem, and the potential effects and affects of its construction. Reference ListAhmed, S. (2004). The cultural politics of emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Commonwealth of Australia. (2015). Preventing Violent Extremism and Radicalisation in Australia. Retrieved from, V., & McGovern, M. (2014). ‘Dangerous minds’? Deconstructing counter-terrorism discourse, radicalisation and the ‘psychological vulnerability’ of Muslim children and young people in Britain. Children & Society, 28(3), 242-256. Kundnani, A. (2012). Radicalisation: The journey of a concept. Race & Class, 54(2), 3-25. Massumi, B. (2015). The politics of affect. Cambridge, UK & Malden, MA: Polity Press.Mouffe, C. (1999). Deliberative democracy or agonistic pluralism? Social Research, 66(3), 745-758.Richards, A. (2011). The problem with 'radicalization': The remit of 'prevent' and the need to refocus on terrorism in the UK. International affairs, 7, 143-152.Stampnitzky, L. (2013). Disciplining terror: How experts invented 'terrorism'. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Yuval-Davis, N. (2011). The politics of belonging: Intersectional contestations. London: Sage.