Good Lives in Right-Wing Extremist Autobiographies

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Hanna Paalgard Munden, Sarah Marsden, MD Kamruzzaman Bhuiyan, Lotta Rahlf, Hanna Rigault Arkhis, Aimee Taylor



Center for Research and Evidence on Security Threats

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Paalgard Munden, H., et al. "Good Lives in Right-Wing Extremist Autobiographies" (Center for Research on Extremism, October 2023) https://crestresearch.ac.uk/resources/good-lives-in-right-wing-extremist-autobiographies/.


Countering Violent Extremism, Leaving High-Control Groups


The Project Gravity Team

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The Good Lives Model ("GLM") is a strength-based approach to rehabilitation that can help explain (rather than describe) trajectories in and out of extremist groups. The GLM assumes that we seek to pursue eleven primary goods (life, knowledge, excellence in work, excellence in play, excellence in agency, inner peace, relatedness, community, pleasure, and creativity), and engaging in extremist subcultures is understood as a way of fulfilling desired goods that are otherwise difficult to achieve due to barriers. Obstacles to obtaining primary goods include use of inappropriate means to achieve the goods, lack of coherence in the way goods relate to on another, a lack of scope, where particular goods dominate one's view while others are neglected, and capacity, when an individual's internal or external conditions make it difficult to achieve primary goods normatively.

The report finds that extremism is often pursued as a way of achieving the goods of healthy living, relatedness, and agency (as well as others, but these were the most commonly featured and helped facilitate access to other goods). Individuals often pursued extremist groups due to feelings that they had few meaningful relationships, and lacked opportunities to express their agency. Goods are interrelated in ways that can change over time. Obstacles, particularly internal and external barriers to achieving goods, can help explain pathways into and out of extremism.