Considering strategies designed to counter radicalisation: Comparative reflections on approaches in the United Kingdom and Belgium


  • Gabriel Gray Mythen University of Liverpool
  • Evelyne Baillergeau UVA


Counter Radicalisation Strategy, Extremism, Terrorism, Prevent


This article focuses on the issue of counter radicalisation strategy, examining the efficacy and the weaknesses of policy initiatives designed to prevent violent extremism. In order to scrutinize various approaches toward combatting the problem of “radicalisation”, we compare and contrast policy and practices in the United Kingdom with counter measures adopted in Belgium. Drawing on a range of examples from these two countries, it is argued that context sensitive and situated multi-agency approaches to counter radicalization are more likely to engage individuals at risk of being drawn into violent extremism and are also less likely to (re)produce iatrogenic effects. Our analysis suggests that, in order to fully understanding what may ostensibly be perceived as individual proclivities toward violence, the role of structural, institutional and environmental factors is significant. We posit that these factors need to be given greater credence in both explanations for “extremism” and processes and practices implemented to reduce the risk of harm.

Este artículo se centra en la estrategia contra la radicalización, examinando la eficacia y los puntos débiles de las iniciativas políticas diseñadas para prevenir el extremismo violento. A fin de analizar varios abordajes para combatir el problema de la “radicalización”, comparamos y contrastamos políticas y prácticas del Reino Unido con contramedidas adoptadas en Bélgica. Utilizando ejemplos de ambos países, argumentamos que, para contrarrestar la radicalización, los abordajes de multiagencia adaptados al contexto tienen mayores probabilidades de atraer personas en riesgo de ser atraídas por el extremismo violento, y también tienen menores probabilidades de (re)producir efectos iatrogénicos. Nuestro análisis insinúa que, para comprender totalmente lo que puede ser percibido como proclividades individuales hacia la violencia, es significativo el papel de factores estructurales, institucionales y ambientales. Aducimos que se debería dar más peso a esos factores a la hora de explicar el “extremismo” y los procesos y prácticas aplicados para reducir el riesgo de daños.

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Author Biographies

Gabriel Gray Mythen, University of Liverpool

Professor of Criminology, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool, UK. Email address:

Evelyne Baillergeau, UVA

Senior researcher at the University of Amsterdam (Department of Sociology). Email address:




How to Cite

Mythen, G. G. and Baillergeau, E. (2021) “Considering strategies designed to counter radicalisation: Comparative reflections on approaches in the United Kingdom and Belgium”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 11(5), pp. 1133–1152. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2024).