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Understanding Twenty-First Century Militant Anti-Fascism: An Analytical Framework and Matrix

Forskningsprojekt The profile of militant antifascism is rising but there is little scholarly understanding of the extent to which it represents a form of violent domestic extremism.


Nigel Copsey
Professor, Teesside University



2019-07-01 2020-06-30


Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats

Medverkande institutioner och enheter vid Umeå universitet

Sociologiska institutionen




The project seeks to enable academic researchers and key policy practitioners to develop their knowledge and understanding of twenty-first century militant anti- fascism in both local and translocal contexts. Using cross-disciplinary perspectives from contemporary history, politics, social movement studies, digital sociology, and criminology, our analytical framework will yield a matrix that supports the assessment of the risk of radicalisation from particular groups within “ANTIFA” and the likelihood that they will adopt more confrontational strategies in the near future in response to the ‘populist upsurge’ and a potentially more aggressive and emboldened far right.

This project studies six selected local case studies in the United States and Britain and uses a multi-method approach by combining activist interviews with the qualitative study of online participatory media and social networking. Cross-disciplinary, it will draw from social movement studies, digital sociology, criminology, politics and contemporary history.

The overarching comparative framework will be constructed around three inter-connected analytical pillars. We expect to observe not one pillar at work in any situation but two or three in varying combinations:

Pillar.1: The translocal diffusion of contemporary militant anti-fascism, i.e. the extent of movement reach beyond confrontational street politics in specific localities to broader regional, national and transnational spaces;

Pillar.2: The impact of exogenous geo-political factors on violent forms of anti- fascist group mobilisation, particularly since the adversaries of militant anti- fascism not only include the far right but also the conditions from which fascism is said to grow, i.e. capitalism;

Pillar.3: The potential for processes of reciprocal radicalisation to take effect.

This three-pillared analytical framework will provide the evidence base for a causally-inferred matrix - a set of conditions at individual, group, and society-level from which anti-fascist radicalisation is more or less likely to emerge. For security, intelligence and law-enforcement practitioners, it will guide their understanding of the potential for increasing numbers of anti- fascists in the English-speaking world and Europe to cross the threshold into violence within the next 3-5 years.

Senast uppdaterad: 2022-01-26