When Being Bad is Good? Bringing Neutralization Theory to Subcultural Narratives of Right-Wing Violence

21 Mar 2018

Bringing together terrorism studies, subcultural theory, and narrative criminology, we here test the thesis that neutralization theory might be (further) developed to provide a framework for understanding stories of ideologically informed subcultural violence. Beginning with Gresham Sykes’ and David Matza’s original five neutralizations, we illustrate how actors engage them in three modes: the encultured, the subcultural, and (tentatively) the postnarrative mode. We test the first two modes in particular against narratives and narrative fragments from interviews with men convicted of right-wing violence in Germany. Our findings provide a preliminary illustration of what neutralization theory might bring to research into political violence.