The Importance of Significant Others in Preventing Extremism: The Philosophy and Practice of the Swedish Tolerance Project
By Alida Skiple
This article concerns a specific educational programme to reduce recruitment to racist and extreme organizations in Sweden. The programme is called the Tolerance Project, and it functions as an elective course offered to a selected group of young people. Looking into assumptions and ideas underlying the programme, the article describes the importance of significant others in preventing extremism. Data consist of descriptions of the programme and field notes obtained from course participation and talking to course leaders. The tolerance educators express a broad understanding of socialization, in which parents are considered as important conversation partners, and that their own job is to facilitate democratic dialogue. Most notably, the course creates new peer constellations and encourages participants to become ‘ambassadors of tolerance’, able to confront intolerance in the arenas in which they are normally located. The overall idea is to improve the various social contexts in which potential ‘at-risk’ youth are located.