Former Right-Wing Extremists' Continued Struggle for Self-transformation After an Exit Program

  • Tina Wilchen Christensen oyal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), Kenya and Th Danish School of Education, Aarhus University Danish School of Education, Aarhus University,
Keywords: Right-wing extremism, disengagement, de-radicalization, desistance, identity transformation, exit-processes, situated learning


This article discusses the identity formation process former right wing extremists go through,
during and especially after being involved in an exit program for those leaving right wing
extremist environments. Based on an ethnographic investigation (and practice theoretical
approach), the article argues that participation in culturally defined worlds – such as the
extremist right – develops sensitivities and sensibilities that endure. This enables them to engage
in social actions, gain a position and develop a correlated identity, but it is also the reason why it
can be very demanding for the individual to leave an extremist environment. Perceived from the
position of former right wing extremists, the article considers the challenges involved in
(re)integrating into society by those stigmatized by a criminal and extremist past. It explores how
individuals leaving a right wing extremist group handle themselves in a new world when their
embodied knowledge and habitual responding are no longer appropriate, and investigates the
many aspects individuals struggle with years after their engagement, when they do not know who
to become and how to act.

How to Cite
Christensen, T. (2019). Former Right-Wing Extremists’ Continued Struggle for Self-transformation After an Exit Program. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 20(1), 04-25. Retrieved from