Completed: The organization of violent extremism and anti-social careers

How are environments of violent extremism organized? How do people move between these, in and out of these and what do their criminal careers look like?

In Sweden and the rest of Europe increased attention is being paid to environments of extreme violence and criminal organizations that challenge our democracy. Although the presence of groups that use violence as a tool for change is no new phenomena, Sweden has seen a significant negative development since the late 1980s with the growing influx of violent-promoting environments and increasing violence committed by criminal gangs. A large number of people are active members in these environments today. Moreover, there are indications that individuals who return from engagement in conflicts abroad and sympathizers of violent extremist environments, have formed a symbiosis with actors in more traditional organized crime. This creates a new challenge to Sweden’s ability to tackle the consequences of radicalization and collective violence that has its epicenter abroad. Consequences, such as social unrest in socially deprived areas as well as ill-conceived counter-measures, can lead to increased mobilization of violence among certain groups in society.

We use research on antisocial careers when studying the individual level and research on social organization theory when studying the development of violent and criminal organization. The project aims to highlight the following research questions:

  • How are violent environments organized?
  • What degree of organization and what interaction exist between violent environments?
  • What does the antisocial career of those individuals who are, or have been, active in violent environments look like?
  • What factors are important for entry, exit, suspension, and termination of the anti-social careers in violent environments?

The empirical core of this project rests on two data sets; a unique registry based database and a qualitative interview material.



Principal Investigator

Christofer Edling Professor, Sociology

Project members

Hernan Mondani Associate Professor in Sociology, MSc., Engineering Physics
Amir Rostami Professor, Criminology

Other project members


MSB – Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency