Commission for Countering Extremism selects Lancaster academic to undertake research


9 April 2019 09:17
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A Lancaster University academic has been selected to contribute research to a first-of-its-kind study into the scale of extremism in our country.

The independent Commission for Countering Extremism has today (Tuesday 9 April) announced the leading academics it has commissioned to write research papers on the Far Right, Islamism, Far Left and online extremism for its study into all forms of extremism.

Dr Benjamin Lee, a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University and from the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST) will prepare an overview of the Far Right.

The paper will map the spectrum of Far Right worldviews and groups, from those close to mainstream public and political life to those on the fringes.

The Commission, announced by the Prime Minister after the terror attacks of 2017, has selected 28 academics and experts with a wide range of expertise, from extremism to community cohesion, to write 19 papers on different aspects of extremism after a competitive bidding process.

These papers will start to provide academic insights into extremism, as well as feed into the Commission’s study into all forms of extremism, released later this year.

The topics include the influence of social media on extremism on and offline, the extent to which Far Right and Islamist ideologies have entered mainstream public and political life and explorations of the links between extremism and terrorism through the lens of UK-based Islamist and Far Right groups, Al-Muhajiroun and National Action.

The papers are part of the Commission’s evidence-gathering for a first-of-its-kind study into the scale of extremism in our country.

Lead Commissioner Sara Khan will present the study to the Home Secretary with recommendations later this year.

The Commission, which was officially established as an independent body last March, has already gathered extensive evidence through visits to 15 towns and cities across England and Wales. The Lead Commissioner has spoken to more than 500 experts, activists and community groups about extremism on the frontline.

The organisation has carried out polling, reviewed academic literature on extremism and set out the five themes – its Terms of Reference - that it will consider for its forthcoming study. These are the public’s understanding of extremism; the scale of extremism; extremists’ objectives and tactics; the harms caused by extremism and the current response to extremism.

The Commission is currently analysing the almost 3,000 submissions it received to the first public call for evidence on extremism.

As part of its evidence-gathering for the study, the Commission is also reviewing government data on indicators of extremism and speaking to individuals and communities with first-hand experience of the harms of extremism.

Sara Khan said: “Countering extremism is a crucially important issue that requires serious and credible research to guide policymakers. The wide range of views put forward by these academic papers will be a vital element of our study on all forms of extremism in our country. They will provide in-depth academic insight that will complement the data and information we are collecting from thousands of individuals and organisations on the ground.”

 The Commission had 72 applicants following an open call for papers. An independent panel drawn from the Commission’s Expert Group scored each proposal against criteria set out in the submission forms (abstract, author/s CV and price) and awarded contracts to the highest quality proposals for each research topic.

Academics will present the findings of their papers to the Lead Commissioner and her Expert Group at a private conference next month.

The Commission will publish the papers in full alongside its study, subject to peer review and legal review


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