DCU to lead €5.1m global research project into violent online political extremism

25 Jun 2012

Dublin City University (DCU) is to take the lead in an international consortium that will be conducting research into violent online political extremism to learn more about how such extremists use the web to reach a wider audience.

The research consortium has gleaned €5.1m in European funding for the research. As well as DCU, the other research groups hail from Germany, Hungary, India, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US.They include:

  • Oxford Internet Institute at University of Oxford
  • Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology in Delhi
  • International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, Kings College London
  • University of Amsterdam
  • Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappel
  • International Center for the Study of Terrorism at Pennsylvania State University
  • Institute for Peace Research & Security Policy at the University of Hamburg
  • Center for Media & Communication Studies at Central European University, Hungary.

Dr Maura Conway of DCU’s School of Law and Government will be heading up a team of researchers for the project, known as VOX-Pol, to look into the internet activities of violent jihadists, nationalist-separatists and extreme Right groups.

DCU said the aim of the research will be to forge relationships and networks between research groups, security practitioners, the internet industry, civil society and policy makers to lead to the development of a multidisciplinary ‘virtual’ centre of excellence for research in violent online political extremism.

The researchers are also hoping their findings will help ensure EU and national policies targeting violent online political extremism are based on concrete evidence, experience and knowledge of online extremism.

“The aim of VOX-Pol is the comprehensive exploration of the many varieties of violent online political extremism, its societal impacts, and responses to it,” said Conway.

Via the internet, she said contemporary violent political extremists have the capacity to reach a much wider audience than they had access to before now.

Conway said substantive academic research into these activities is still relatively new and fragmented, with many researchers pursuing their individual interests in isolation.

“VOX-Pol seeks to remedy this by drawing researchers together to collectively tackle some of the major under-explored topics arising out of the intersection of violent political extremism and the internet,” she explained.

Internet image via Shutterstock

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic