New article - Distancing the Extraordinary: Audience Understandings of Radicalisation

A new article by Ben O'Loughlin, Carole Boudeau and Andrew Hoskins has been published exploring how audiences make sense 'radicalising' media such as jihadist websites even if they have never come into contact with them. The journal is published in Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, as part of a special issue on media and security cultures. The article can be accessed here. For those without a subscription, email for a pdf version. The authors are grateful to Hari Harindranath and John Tebbutt for putting a great special issue together. 


The term radicalization proliferated in official and media discourses in the UK in 2005 and has become an anchoring concept in debates about jihadist-inspired political violence. This article presents original research from an investigation conducted in the UK and France in 2008 – 09 to elicit how audiences understand the term and concept of radicalization from multi-methodological analysis of their ordinary language. As a contribution at the intersection of media and security studies, our analysis indicates that audiences are aware of official and media discourses of radicalization, and that they establish disjunctures between those discourses and their own understandings of the concept of radicalization. Critically, these disjunctures are found in the way people talk about radicalization: in their use of language rather than the content of arguments expressed. In establishing these disjunctures through ordinary news talk, audience members position themselves as not-your-typical-viewer, making presumptions about other members of the same audience to which they belong. This supports Scannell’s theorization of mass media as for-anyone-as-someone structures, through which individuals are able to articulate their own sense of difference and identity.