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The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

'New' Prevent Policy: How the Government's policy to prevent radicalism is being perceived by Muslim Youth.

Background

The proposed research is interdisciplinary, applying methodologies drawn from social movement theory (SMT) to explore the interface between changing perceptions and frames of counter terrorism policies and Muslim youth experiences. This research will impact on digital activism and SMT by exploring the previously overlooked relationship between radicalisation mobilisation and government counter terrorism policy methods and frames of political engagement in Britain. It will draw on a SMT framework to understand how Muslim youth networks have emerged and the mechanisms by which they mobilise against the government’s landmark policy programme, Prevent. This research project will contribute to emerging scholarship on SMT theory and Muslim politics, adding a new dimension where youth networks are considered as a causal effect of government counter terrorism policies.

This research will use a mixture of research methods. Using quantitative and qualitative, the case study will draw principally on data gathered among Muslim Youth (age 16-18) as part of the MCB’s youth programmes. It will draw on Arabic and English-language newspapers and blogs to create a database to collate youth responses to government counter terrorism policies, seeking to expose patterns of political engagement. Interviews will be carried out through extensive fieldwork in the UK. For this there is a need to overcome interviewees’ suspicion and to build trust, therefore ‘snowball sampling’ will be employed as a technique for finding research subjects (Atkinson and Flint 2001). I am uniquely placed to conduct this research. The proposed study employs a theoretical framework similar to my use of Gramsci’s concepts of the ‘historic bloc’ and ‘hegemony’ to understand counter-hegemonic motivations among Muslim Brotherhood members living in exile after Morsi’s removal in 2013; such as interviews I conducted with the administrators of IKhwanweb, the official Brotherhood English site based in London. This approach was developed through the course of my book and applies it to the realm of the Muslim youth. Over the past 5 years I have worked on postdoctoral research on Egyptian politics, specifically Muslim youth politics so my undertaking qualitative research and in-depth interviews with policymakers, politicians and experts is well developed. I will draw on my research knowledge, on my network of contacts and on my interview skills for the proposed research.

Objectives

This research will result in a policy brief, a series of journal articles and conference presentations in order to disseminate my findings to other scholars and non-academic practitioners. Additional research output will include submission of findings to academic journals for two papers – one on historic perceptions of Prevent for publication at the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies and another contemporary research article on the Government’s ‘New’ Prevent policy for submission to the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. A podcast will also be produced with the funds in partnership with the MCB’s youth leader who will act as key stakeholders in this project due to their capacity as interlocutors between Muslim Youth and the perception of the national counter terrorism policies.


Additional objectives will include presenting my findings at the International Studies Association conference and co-ordinate a round table panel discussion at the annual conference for the British Society of Middle Eastern Studies in 2022-23. I also plan to host a one day conference at the University of Southampton to disseminate my findings and foster greater academic collaboration on this theme. Topics to be discussed would include; a) Muslim Youth and political engagement b) Radicalisation and local networks c) digital activism among Muslim Youth. Beyond publishing findings of the conference into an edited volume, I would like to produce a podcast so as to engage with non-academic outlets both here in Britain and across Europe where similar government counter terrorism policies have impacted Muslim youth and community integration.

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