A Threat to Open Societies? Conceptualizing the Radicalization of Society
Keywords:radicalization of society, polarization, populism
Which are the factors that favor societal radicalization? Few studies in international and national radicalization research have been directly interested in investigating the societal level and discussing the impact of radicalized groups, milieus and strata on society and its potential radicalization. This article provides on overview of current research and discusses factors favoring the radicalization of societies. The latter arises when the legitimacy of the political system is called into question and a society witnesses a departure from prevailing social norms in political dealings, especially if the use of political violence is no longer rejected. All in all, radicalized individuals, groups, milieus or strata can hold the potential for radicalizing societies. Increasing and incremental socio-political changes can lead to decreasing social cohesion. In view of this possibility, the authors call for strengthening social resilience and civilizing the public debate.