The research project explores approaches and the potential impact of e-youth work as an instrument for the prevention of radicalization and for de-radicalization.
Situation, problem and motivation: Adolescents are particularly vulnerable when it comes to extremist propaganda spread via the internet and the New Media. This is because young people on the one hand are more susceptible to radical positions and groups, while these media, on the other hand, play an essential role in their life and in their developing identities. In order to protect young people adequately and effectively, not only instruments for stemming extremist internet propaganda are needed, but also, and even more importantly, media-related socio- pedagogical prevention and de-radicalization is necessary. The latter must in turn be able to reach youths with little or no economic, cultural and social resources.
For this, Open Youth Work offers an especially promising approach with its internet- and media-related interventions (= e-youth work). The combination of online- and offline-interventions, the latter of which are based on a personal relationship of trust, strengthens critical and reflective media competence and empowers young people to use these media constructively and participatorily. The low-threshold approach used in Open Youth Work provides access to usually difficult-to-reach, yet highly relevant target groups for preventative (media-) interventions. However, at the moment e-youth work is not used systematically in Austria, there is considerable need for professional reflection and development; at the same time there is a lack of scientific research in this area of Open Youth Work.
Aim and innovative content - The research project aims:
- to generate evidence-based knowledge about the use, the practices and the potential impact of e-youth work with a special focus on the media-related prevention of radicalization in order to foster a professional practice of Open Youth Work,
- The research project addresses the vast need for development in Open Youth Work: the necessity to use New Media more frequently and more diversely in order to create sustainable strategies for the protection of young people against extremist internet propaganda. Central national stakeholders will be included in the project as partners.
Intended outcomes and findings:
- a representative research report about existing know-how as well as about concrete needs for training and development in using e-youth work to prevent radicalization,
- extensive findings concerning innovative examples of good practice (in regard to dealing with extremist online-propaganda), their work methods, qualities of relationships and impacts,
- workshops for professionals in the field as well as for relevant stakeholders (RAN Austria, inter alia) in order to generate knowledge which can be fed directly back into practice,
- guidelines for practitioners: e-youth work as an instrument for the prevention of radicalization and for de-radicalization; a catalogue of recommendations for organizations which provide Open Youth Work, for the training of professionals in the field and for Austrian youth and security policy.
Mag. Dr. Hemma Mayrhofer, IRKS – Institut für Rechts- und Kriminalsoziologie
bOJA – Bundesweites Netzwerk Offene Jugendarbeit
VJZ – Verein Wiener Jugendzentren
BMFJ – Bundesministerium für Familien und Jugend (Abteilung I/5: Jugendpolitik)
BM.I – Bundesministerium für Inneres (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz und Terrorismusbekämpfung)