BI:JU - Biography work in open youth work


Situation, problem, and motivation: Causal studies on the radicalisation of young people show a failed or fragile identity development and a tenuous relationship towards one’s own biography as central risk factors for turning towards extremist views. Biography work draws on this and supports people in their identity development and the integration of difficult experiences in their own life- and self-concept. Although biography work provides promising tools for the prevention of radicalisation, the organisation Open Youth Work (Offene Jugendarbeit - OJA) does not make use of it regularly.

The reasons for this include the fact that existing methodological approaches are not adapted enough for the OJA’s ‘low-threshold’ work. Furthermore, grounded knowledge about how and under which circumstances these interventions influence the biographical progression of young people and strengthen their resilience is needed. Biographically orientated prevention is made more difficult by the fact that there is little research concerning resilience against extremist views, yet knowledge about this would be essential to devising successful preventive measures.

Aims and innovative content: As part of this project, adequate approaches of biography work for the prevention of radicalisation in OJA will be developed, and examples of good practice will be identified:

  1. Generating knowledge about factors and contexts promoting resilience through biographical interviews with users of open youth work, with particular regard to the potential influence of youth workers.
  2. Examination of existing approaches of biography work for profitable impulses and the development of a set of methods for ‘low-threshold’ biography work in OJA (for single- and group-settings).
  3. Practical trial of developed methods in three institutions featuring OJA and accommodating evaluation by the research team.
  4. Effective dissemination of outcomes and tools for radicalisation prevention by cooperatively generating knowledge in workshops throughout Austria.

Intended outcomes and findings:

  • Knowledge about factors promoting resilience in the biographical progression of young people whose living situation and contexts show stress factors (incl. exemplary biographical vignettes as educational material in prevention).
  • Handbook containing evidence-based (evaluated) intervention tools of ‘low-threshold’ biography work with at-risk young people in OJA (incl. instruments for self-evaluation of biographical work for youth workers).
  • Knowledge-transfer workshops with OJA-specialists, other actors in radicalisation prevention, youth services, and education.
  • Recommendations for safety- and youth politics, public youth work, and education.


The project is funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMLRT) as part of the KIRAS security research program. 



Project Partners

Project Period

March 2019 to May 2022

Project Manager

Nach oben scrollen