Khan, Wajid (2017) Understanding the Psychological Pathways to Terrorism & Radicalisation: An Explorative Analysis of the Narratives Given by those Identified as Terrorists or a Radicalised Threat Within the UK. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The focus of this study is to gain a deeper insight into the subjective and salient belief systems that are held by those individuals who have previously been detained or arrested under the counter terrorism legislation in the UK. Embedded in the theoretical work of Personal Construct Theory, 8 participants completed an extensive life narrative interview alongside a reparatory grid highlighting core constructs and belief systems. A thematic analysis of the corresponding data was undertaken from which a number of themes were identified. The most prominent emerging theme centred around the concept of empathy and empathic anger. i.e. the participants expressed a strong empathy connection towards those in conflict situations who were seen as victims and equally presented with a strong disapproval or empathic anger towards those who were viewed as aggressors and penultimately responsible for the atrocities. Although further research is required the implications of this emerging theme are significant in developing a holistic understanding of the factors which affect motivational drive of individuals who are 'radicalised'.

This study builds upon the theoretical work of Hutson, Long & Page, (2009), Taylor & Horgan, (2006) and Moghaddam, (2005) who respectively identify a series of social and psychological processes which potentially exert an influence on the motivational drive. This study therefore suggests that the modulating factor or the spark which maintains an individual on the path of radicalisation is centred around this notion of empathic anger. This study suggests that individuals who are regarded as a radicalised threat go through a series of subjective experiences and processes are catapulted by this empathic response from merely feeling a grievance to actually rationalising a potential action.

A number of additional themes centring around relationships (particularly the father), racisms and the impact of life changing events or trauma were also identified but would benefit from further investigation. The study also attempts to provide a critical look at the discourses around terrorism and radicalisation particularly the subjective and emotive uses of the terminology and the inevitable effects of political biases. A potential area for further study is suggested in the form of a theoretical model which suggests that depending upon the individual’s personal attributes the individual may gravitate towards one of 5 roles i.e. an idealist, soldier, Intellectual-Recruiter, Opportunist-Financier or Patsy. The limitations of the study centre around the relative small sample and the lack of diversity within the sample.

FINAL THESIS - Khan, W.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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