Understanding extremism in Scotland: evidence review

A report which reviews evidence on defining extremism and the extent and nature of extremism in Scotland.

Appendix B – Definitions of extremism

Descriptive definitions

  • Home Office (2011) 'vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas' (values / lack of openness or receptiveness / violence)
  • Berger (2018) 'the belief that an in-group's [a group that a person identifies as being a part of] success or survival can never be separated from the need for hostile action against an out-group [a group with which an individual does not identify]' (lack of openness or receptiveness)
  • Martin (2011) an ideology or viewpoint that is 'radical in opinion, especially in political matters… characterised by intolerance toward opposing interests and divergent opinions' (values / lack of openness or receptiveness)

Iterative definitions

  • Backes (2007) 'uniting extremists is a clear notion of what has to be rejected, including (1) pluralism (they have a preference for decision-making solely by a dominant individual or group), (2) orientation towards a common good of all people whereby different interests and worldviews are taken into consideration, (3) rule of law, and (4) self-determination (by the majority of people instead of outside determination)' (values / lack of openness or receptiveness)
  • Schmid (2013) 'extremist groups tend to have a programme that includes many of the following elements: Anti-constitutional, anti-democratic, anti-pluralist, authoritarian, Fanatical, intolerant, non-compromising, single-minded black-or-white thinkers, Rejecting the rule of law while adhering to an ends-justify-means philosophy, Aiming to realise their goals by any means, including, when the opportunity offers itself, the use of massive political violence against opponents' (values / lack of openness or receptiveness / violence)
  • Rowley (2018) '1. Extremists reach into communities through sophisticated propaganda, 2. Extremists create intolerance and isolation by exploiting grievances, 3. Extremists reinforce this sense of isolation by generating distrust of state institutions, 4. Extremists offer warped parallel alternatives that undermine our values of tolerance and diversity' (lack of openness or receptiveness)


Email: SVT@gov.scot

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