From Paris to San Bernardino, Barcelona to Manchester, home-grown terrorism is among the most urgent challenges confronting Western nations. Attempts to understand jihadism have typically treated it as a form of political violence or religious conflict. However, the closer we get to the actual people involved in radicalization, the more problematic these explanations become.
In this fascinating book, Kevin McDonald shows that the term radicalization unifies what are in fact very different experiences. These new violent actors, whether they travelled to Syria or killed at home, range from former drug dealers and gang members to students and professionals, mothers with young children and schoolgirls. This innovative book sets out to explore radicalization not as something done to people but as something produced by active participants, attempting to make sense of themselves and their world. In doing so, McDonald offers powerful portraits of the immersive worlds of social media so fundamental to present-day radicalization.

<i>Radicalization </i>offers a bold new way of understanding the contemporary allure of jihad and, in the process, important directions in responding to it.
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  • December 2018
  • 224 pages
  • 155 x 232 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9781509522606
  • Paperback $24.95
  • 9781509522613
  • Open eBook $19.99
  • 9781509522644
Table of Contents
  • 1. Rethinking Radicalization
  • 2. Distant Suffering
  • 3. DIY Religion: hidden worlds, from fear to bliss
  • 4. Mediating Violence: filming the self
  • 5. From Drug Dealer to Jihadist
  • 6. The Gamification of Jihad: the cyber-caliphate
  • 7. My Concern is Me
  • 8. Radicalization: experience, embodiment and imagination
  • Bibliography
About the Author
Kevin McDonald is Professor of Sociology at Middlesex University.
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"The most important contribution of Kevin McDonald’s new book is his illumination of the variety and complexity of individual pathways to so-called jihadism. These pathways do not evince a simple embrace of religious fundamentalism or violent nihilism, or a reaction to Western imperialism, or any kind of indoctrination. And the pathways are not always clearly marked out in advance, but are actively made, at least in part, by the individuals themselves. Anyone who wants to understand how a startlingly wide range of individuals has come to support jihadism should read this book."
Jeff Goodwin, New York University

"Professor Kevin McDonald's new book is an incisive interdisciplinary contribution furthering our understanding of radicalization processes through a sociology of experience perspective. Based on extensive field interviews with extremists and social media profiles of foreign terrorist fighters, this book focus on how extremists experience reality and how they respond to it. Anyone who seriously wants to understand violent extremism must read this book. Also policymakers need to pay attention as it has huge policy implications how we approach prevention work and strategies."
Dr Magnus Ranstorp is Quality Manager of the EU Radicalization Awareness Network - Centre of Excellence. He also leads all terrorism and extremism research at the Swedish Defense University.

"Radicalization offers an accessible, rich account of the lived experience of radicalization. It encourages readers to carefully consider the processes through which some individuals make sense of fear, suffering, hostility, and, at times, the fun in being transgressive by adopting distinctive conceptual frameworks—frameworks that may lead to supporting jihadism and violence."
Social Forces

"Radicalization undoubtedly adds an original and important perspective to the current debate on radicalization."
American Journal of

“The essential merit of this book is to break with the paradigm of ‘indoctrination of young victims’. This work paves the way for a much more complex approach to radicalization based more on the idea of active transformation of actors displaying a desire for political and moral change.”
Revue française de sociologie

"[A] fascinating read […] The second chapter is a particularly brilliant piece of digital ethnography[. McDonald's book] undoubtedly adds an original and important perspective to the current debate on radicalization."
American Journal of Sociology


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