Alternative narratives can help to prevent radicalisation of young people and vulnerable groups by highlighting the mechanism of extremist propaganda, building resilience and providing alternatives to individual pathways potentially leading to extremism. Against the background of comprehensive research and analysis, the project Counter Stories creates a set of videos and exercises for supporting preventing in Austrian schools.
The number of potential viewers of extremist propaganda has increased significantly due to the internet, social media and messenger services. This creates new challenges as well as opportunities for police prevention work against radicalization. Although the propaganda differs in its content, images and codes, it addresses similar emotional triggers and impulses. According to the scientific literature also radicalization patterns overlap. Therefore, religiously motivated extremism can be analysed with similar approaches as secularly motivated extremism.
Preventive practices against radicalization often work with alternative narratives, which put an emphasis on positive alternatives to the pathway of radicalisation. As regards the early prevention, research has shown that alternative narratives that are focusing on inclusion, diversity, openness, and critical thinking are especially effective in early prevention. Furthermore, they also have an impact when applied by state actors such as the police.
Coordinated by SYNYO and in partnership with the Austrian Institute for International Policy, bOJA – Contact Point for Extremism and the Austrian Ministry of Interior, the overall objective of the Counter Stories project is therefore to develop research-based alternative narratives for the early radicalization-prevention work by the Austria police. Over the period of 18 months, this will include the development of didactic concepts as well as tailored early-prevention material targeting young people. In addition to the research and analysis that will be conducted in the project, the project will establish a strong connection with national and international networks, practitioners and initiatives.
In order to develop effective and innovative alternative narratives for the Austrian context, national and international good-practices will be categorized and the success factors will be discussed with experts. Based on this, a catalogue of alternative narratives aiming at male and female young people in Austria will be developed. In addition, the practical requirements will be discussed with the end-user partners and structured in a detailed requirements-catalogue. Finally, this preliminary work will lead to a comprehensive didactic methodology and a prevention portfolio (videos and a handbook with practical exercises) for the prevention-work by the police.
The handbook is also intended to be used for the internal training of the officers, who will discuss the videos in the schools with the young people. Furthermore, a prevention roadmap for Austria as well as structured recommendations and approaches for raising public awareness will be prepared and provided to the end-user partner.
Counter Stories Project Website: www.counterstories.at
Radicalisation, prevention, violent extremism, videos, law enforcement, schools