Since the Second World War, various EU member states have faced political extremism (RAF, ETA, RMS), sometimes mixed with religion (IRA), but Islamic extremism (Islamism) was rare. The 1972 attack on the Olympic Village in Munich, where eight Palestinian terrorists killed two Israeli Olympics, fades, however, if compared with recent attacks in Paris, Brussels, Nice, Berlin, London, Stockholm, et cetera. Nevertheless, in spite of the “Clash of Civilizations” rhetoric, fewer people die of violence than before. An explanation for this is to be found in the global democratization process. Still, a lack of democratization in some areas, especially in association with the process of social exclusion (e.g. Islamophobia), is also a cause of extremism. When policy makers obtain a better understanding of the link between diversity, democracy and dialogue, they can also recommend more adequate policies to prevent and combat various forms of extremism. In this proposal, we seek such an understanding with reference to Dialogical Self Theory.

Dialogical Self Theory combines fundamental and practice-oriented research and has demonstrated to be very effective in a variety of disciplines and related professions. In a nutshell, Dialogical Self Theory hypothesizes (1) that the self may be conceived of as a mini society or a multiplicity of embodied I-positions among which dialogical relationship exists, and (2) that the self is capable of shifting from one position to another in accordance with different, even contradictory, situations. In light of this theory, the basic question  regarding extremism is why and under what conditions some people are no longer able to shift from one position to another? Why do they become extreme? The answer to this question addresses the expected impact of the Horizon 2020 call on extreme ideologies and polarization: Concrete solutions for abating the sense of antagonism, fostering meaningful debates and expanding the spectrum of commonalities among people will contribute to decreasing the degree of polarisation in at-risk contexts.