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at the University of Manchester

The Urban Environment: Mirror and Mediator of Radicalisation?

The Crumlin Courthouse

This research project is inspired by the assumption that societal polarisation (incl. political radicalisation)- is not an a-spatial or a-material phenomenon. It takes place in streets, apartments, shops or parks and it is materially reflected in fences, buildings, territorial markers etc. But walls, bridges, buildings etc. also exert a gravitational pull on people's perception and behaviour, for example the decision which playground to prefer, where to hide in the event of trouble and the likeliness of meeting 'others'. In short, social conditions and urban environments shape each other.

It seems plausible that such processes are similar, but not identical, in cities with "earlier" and "new" patterns of radicalisation. A systematic assessment of this assumption would help a wide range of actors – who will be proactively involved in the research process – to create cities that facilitate amicable encounters between different groups, thereby tackling some of the many conditions of stereotypisation, polarisation and potentially even radicalisation.

We therefore aim to map existing knowledge in various disciplines about these dynamics and we investigate the ground-level situation in four cities: Belfast and Beirut as examples of "earlier" patterns of contestation – although with different recent developments and different religious connotations – and Berlin and Amsterdam as examples of "new" patterns of radicalisation in the form of Neo-Nazi mobilisation and extremist tendencies among Muslim youths, respectively.

This website provides more information about this project, its underlying theory, the actual research process, various outputs and the research team. If you have any comments about the project or the website feel free to contact us.

End-of-award report available now (PDF, 175KB).

Key data

Funding programme
"New Security Challenges: 'Radicalisation' and Violence - A Critical Reassessment", co-funded by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council), the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Project title
The urban environment: Mirror and mediator of radicalisation?
Principal investigator
Dr Ralf Brand
Dr Jon Coaffee
Start Date
End Date
Award/Grant Amount
Full economic costing
ESRC Grant Number
University of Manchester
Science and Technology Studies

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