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Ethical questions in empirical (de)radicalization research – bridging online and offline

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Ethical questions in empirical (de)radicalization research – bridging online and offline

In Germany, interdisciplinary research on (de)radicalization processes in the context of violent extremism has received increased attention in the recent past, not only, but also in regards to the role of social media in extremist endeavors. Security agencies and mass media ascribe online-media an (at least) amplifying function in radicalization processes. It is thus not surprising, that a growing corpus of scholarly literature and a rising interest in the empirical substantiation of theories and concepts exists among scholars, practitioners and policy makers alike. Yet, dealing with (de)radicalization online as well as offline confronts researchers and practitioners with specific ethical challenges.

In consequence, a renewed debate on ethical implications of radicalization research is overdue. The fast moving juxtaposition of the highly politicized topics of radicalization and extremisms, on the one side, and the particular sensitivity of the empirical field(s) in online and offline contexts, on the other side, creates a delicate tension that revolves around the (re)definition and affirmation of ethical standards.

The aim of the proposed workshop is, in a first step, to answer the questions arising from (de)radicalization research and assess the multiple challenges and tensions that define research practices at present. It will serve as an interdisciplinary platform for exchange on good research practices, deriving from different fields such as communication and media sciences, conflict and violence research, criminology, religious studies, sociology, anthropology and psychology. The workshop will also inform the suggestion of a reformulation of ethical principles and standards taking into account the specific technical and empirical aspects of the field to guide future research and deduct best-practice recommendations.

The topic of ethics is especially relevant for independent research in a democratic and pluralistic society. For the long-term perspective, the workshop, therefore, aims to revive dialogue on ethics among scholars, practitioners and policy makers. In its endeavor, the workshop fits well the CAIS’ agenda on ‘governance and regulation’ (Governance und Regulierung). As well as ‘democracy and the public sphere’ (Demokratie und Öffentlichkeit).

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