Hate crime, hate speech, and violence

This theme focuses on causes and consequences of hate crime, hate speech, and violent behavior. In particular, C-REX will pay attention to the following five topics: extreme right violence; radicalization, engagement and disengagement; lone actor terrorism; vigilantism; as well as hate crime and hate speech.

The Prime Minister's Office in Oslo after having been bombed by a right-wing terrorist on July 22, 2011.

Photo: Henrik Lied/Wikicommons

Photo: Henrik Lied/Wikicommons

Extreme right violence

Even if its effects are profoundly negative, extreme right violence is scarcely researched. In Western Europe, at least 300 persons have been killed by far right activists since 1990. In Russia, where the figures are even worse, more than 600 persons have been killed since 2004. How violent are extreme right actors in contemporary Europe and how do we explain cross-national variation? How did a militant right-wing movement take root and develop in post-Soviet Russia, and why did it grow so much more violent than its West European counterparts? 

The Center will also carry out new research to study these diverse responses to the present-day wave of refugees. Past experiences have demonstrated the important contributions academic researchers can make in informing policies and interventions with relevant research-based knowledge, for example by demonstrating that violent attacks could very well be carried out by unorganized perpetrators and not necessarily by the same activists who are behind anti-foreigner incitement.

Radicalization, engagement and disengagement

Why and how people join and leave extremist groups has been a main topic of extremism research in general, and research on right-wing extremism in Norway in particular. These processes are quite generic across different forms of violent extremism, and new understandings and theoretical developments will profit greatly from comparative research. Comparative analysis of these processes across different types of extremist movements enables us to improve not only prevention and intervention measures for different types of groups, but also to identify significant differences which make it difficult or impossible to transfer interventions from one type of movement to another.

Lone actor terrorism

Terrorism by “lone wolves” has become an increasingly salient topic, not only in Norway after the 22/7 attacks, but also across Europe and the US. While there are numerous examples of Leftist and Islamist lone actor terrorists, a majority of these have been motivated by right-wing extrem­ist ideology. Comparative studies of lone actors across geographical contexts and ideological frameworks are much needed to better understand this emergent form of terrorism, which is not just particularly threaten­ing because of its increasing frequency but also because of the specific challenges it provides to security services.


In the Nordic countries, as in many other European countries, vigilante groups have emerged as a response to the large influx of refugees. Parts of the local population perceive the refugees to represent a threat to the security and culture to the locals. Some vigilante groups claim that the state is no longer fulfilling its part of the contract with the people to maintain security and repress crime. Thus, they argue, they no longer feel obliged to respect the state’s monopoly on violence. “If the state does not protect us, we will protect ourselves - by all necessary means”. To what extent are these groups constituted by former far-right activists? Are extreme right ideology and xenophobic ideas important for their activities and recruitment? How can we explain the rise of this transnational phenomenon?

Hate speech and hate crime

Hate crime has been a neglected field of research in Norway and the police have generally not given much priority to register and investigate hate crimes as such. Although hate crimes and speech often originate in extreme right circles, many cases come from ideological (and non-ideological) circles far beyond traditional right-wing extremism. Research in this field should cover the broad variety of perpetrators as well as victims. We need more systematic knowledge on the phenomenon and scope of hate crime and hate speech in Norway. Who does what against whom and what are the consequences?

Published Feb. 23, 2016 3:14 PM - Last modified Sep. 26, 2017 9:25 AM