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case study, jihad/terror, perspective, radicalisation / counter-radicalisation

Just sharing – Leaving ideological groups behind: A model of disengagement

Behavioral_Sciences_of_Terrorism_and_Political_Aggression_148_214_sK. J. Harris, E. Gringart & D. Drake (2017), “Leaving ideological groups behind: A model of disengagement”, Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, 17 March, pp. 1-9. Click here to access.


The social mechanisms in ideological groups work to promote a cohesive social unit and present significant barriers to disengaging. Nonetheless, involvement in these groups is often not a lifelong commitment and many members do leave. The aim of this study was to explore the personal experience of the exiting process from a diverse range of ideological groups, and to construct a theory of disengagement, through 27 in-depth interviews with former members of 1% motorcycle clubs, military special operations forces, cults, white supremacists and fundamental religious or political groups. Participant interviews were analysed using grounded theory methodology to construct a model of disengagement. After the experience of an initial trigger, the group was perceived as inconsistent with the self-concept and conflicted with personally held goals and values, which threatened the participants’ psychological integrity. Participants employed self-concept management strategies to address this inconsistency, which culminated in the decision to leave and tempering of ideology. These findings have relevance to social policies, which aim to influence membership in ideological groups.

About Muhammad Haniff Hassan

Muhammad Haniff Bin Hassan is a Fellow. He holds a PhD and M.Sc. in Strategic Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (previously known as the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies), Nanyang Technological University. He received his early education in Aljunied Islamic School. He then continued his tertiary education at the Faculty of Islamic Studies, National University of Malaysia, with honours in Syar`iah and Civil law. Mr. Haniff is also active in social activities as a member of the Islamic Religious Council Appeal Board, HSBC Insurance Islamic Advisory Board from 2000 to 2014, Association of Islamic Religious Teachers and Scholars of Singapore (PERGAS) and Management Committee of Al-Irsyad Islamic School. He writes extensively in Berita Harian (a local Malay newspaper) and has also published articles in The Straits Times. He has published six books in his name, co-authored a monograph and helped publish two books for PERGAS and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. His personal website in Malay is at


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