Social radicalisation

The disintegration of social cohesion is a gradual process that is difficult to define. When does radicalisation begin? With agitation and propaganda? This is a topic that is currently being addressed by around 50 projects funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Person mit Kapuzenpullover und Laptop; © Thinkstock


In recent years, social polarisation has intensified: Growing sections of the population are losing confidence in democracy, are feeling ignored, stigmatized, abandoned or excluded. This is what populist policies seize on. Their policies follow basic patterns such as criticism of social elites, personalisation and the moralisation of politics. They emphasise, for example, current problems in urban development, which range from gentrification and segregation to a lack of opportunities for participation. The BMBF-funded joint project PODESTA (Populism | Democracy | City) is therefore using interdisciplinary methods to investigate how different actors in the urban environment deal with populism and contrasts the two cities of Leipzig and Stuttgart.

Hate communication in social media

Another BMBF project is dedicated to hate communication in social media: "NO HATE – Managing crises of public communication on the issues of refugees, migration, foreigners" (NOHATE). Hate communication is a real threat to individuals while, at the same time, it endangers the cohesion of society as a whole. The aim of the three-year collaborative project NOHATE is to examine hate communication in social media, online forums and comment areas with regard to its (early) identification, causes and dynamics, as well as to potential possibilities for de-escalation, and to develop practically applicable, software-supported courses of action .


PODESTA and NOHATE are only two of about 50 projects that the BMBF has supported since October 2017 under the funding directive "Strengthening cohesion in times of crisis and upheaval" (see funding directive).

Research about radical currents of Islam

Moreover, politics and society are increasingly confronted with the challenges of a radical Islam. Since the attacks of 11 September 2001 at the latest, radical currents of Islam have increasingly become a challenge within society. Radical Islamism has become part of social reality in Germany and in many European countries. In view of the heterogeneity and breadth of the phenomenon, the question arises as to what are the social causes for the strengthening of a radical Islam in Germany and Europe. What are the social, political, cultural and historical reasons for this development? How does the influence of Islamists affect social life as a whole? How does it influence insecurities and the perceptions of threats? To what extent do they trigger or intensify processes of polarization, division and exclusion?

In order to answer these questions, the BMBF published the funding guideline "Gesellschaftliche Ursachen und Wirkungen des radikalen Islam" (Social Causes and Effects of Radical Islam) in October 2018 and, from 2020 onwards, will be funding research projects in two focus areas: firstly, the social causes of the strengthening of Islamism in Germany and Europe will be investigated; and, secondly, the social effects of Islamism in Germany and Europe. In addition, funding is being provided for an accompanying scientific project that networks these projects internally and externally, brings together scientific findings, supports the socially and practically oriented transfer of results and knowledge, and conducts public relations work (see funding guidelines).