The theme of four attractions used on this page largely coincides with the approach of Christian Picciolini’s Breaking Hate, which emphasizes the attractions of white nationalism for young people using three categories: Identity, Community, and Purpose. We have added the sometimes crucial role ideology plays in providing what J.M. Berger calls a “crisis narrative” in his book, Extremism. Such narratives can be essential in generating the experience of in-group community and sense of purpose in resisting an out-group. The role of ideology in recruitment is emphasized in The Three Pillars of Radicalization, by Arie W. Kruglanski and others, which uses a somewhat different framework of three motivating features: personal needs, ideological narratives, and social rewards. Both Berger and Kruglanski draw more heavily on radical Islamic extremism than American white nationalism, and the general impact of ideology on those two cases may differ in degree, as it does in individual cases within any type of extremism.

In his book, Healing from Hate, Michael Kimmel notes that in American white nationalism the specific content of ideology is often less of an attraction than the group-binding function of simply possessing a shared crisis ideology. Others, such as Christian Picciolini concur that ideology alone rarely brings recruits into the white nationalist movement: instead, community and the promise of a new sense of identity created through group action are the key. CO•RE’s discussions of the role of ideology in radicalization tracks closer to these approaches. As one commentator puts it: ideology is not the show, it’s the ticket you need to get in.

The page also draws on Michael Hogg, From Uncertainty to Extremism: Social Categorization and Identity Processes. Hogg’s broader work has developed theoretical models to analyze the relationship between the experience of “identity uncertainty” and the drive to resolve it through group membership.

The thousands of leaked messages and internal webcasts (“fireside chats”) of Identity Evropa/American Identity Movement provided primary source material for the section, “A look inside a white nationalist group.”

“The ideology and the dogma are not what drive people to this extremism; it’s in fact, I think, a broken search for that acceptance and that purpose and community.”

Christian Picciolini, White American Youth, (MR Live 1/29/2018, 22:31-22:43), quoted in Paris Martineau, The Alt-Right Is Recruiting Depressed People