‘Dangerous Minds’? Deconstructing Counter-Terrorism Discourse, Radicalisation and the ‘Psychological Vulnerability’ of Muslim Children and Young People in Britain

Current British Government strategies to counter terrorism (exemplified in the Preventpolicy and Channel programme) are based upon a problematic fusion of certain dominant explanatory models of the ‘causes of terrorism’ (specifically, ‘psychological vulnerability’ to ‘radicalisation’) with discourses of ‘child protection/safeguarding’. Derived from particular mainstream traditions of social scientific epistemology and inquiry, these knowledge paradigms ‘legitimise’ a pre-emptive, interventionist and securitising approach that affects the lives of young British Muslims. The aim of this article is to challenge some of the assumptions that underpin the understanding of ‘radicalisation’, ‘psychological vulnerability’ and ‘child protection’ evidenced in these state practices and policies.

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