logo: stratex

Stratex -Strategies of extremist organisations within the education sector


This research project analyses the objectives, strategies, networks and the concrete approaches of extremist organisations in the education sector in order to provide information necessary for primary prevention against extremism in Austria.

Violent extremism as well as the increasing polarisation and radicalisation of societal discourses pose great challenges to contemporary societies. It is a known fact that extremist groups recruit members and attempt to spread their ideologies in schools and through their own educational initiatives. However, currently, we know little about the dimensions of the phenomenon, and about the methods and strategies extremists use. Acquiring this knowledge is particularly relevant since schools are the most important sites for primary extremism prevention. Therefore, any acquired knowledge and potential resulting preventative measures need to be evidence-based to be successful.

To date, neither the extremist groups in Austria who attempt to have an influence on the education system, nor the capacity of these attempts have been examined. Additionally, the nationwide needs and prevention measures that are already in place on a federal level have to be assessed. Thus, this study will first generate important new knowledge in order to later improve the prevention of and the fight against extremist recruitment in the education system. To this end, we will, first of all, conduct an analysis of existing prevention measures in Austria, especially at the local level, as well as of the needs of the local actors in the federal states. Secondly, we will provide an overview of the status quo with regard to the influence of extremist organizations – nationalist/right-wing extremist, religious fundamentalist and subversive/anti-state, in the field of education, as well as of their own educational initiatives. Building on this analysis, we will thirdly examine particularly relevant extremist organizations and their activities in an ethnographic manner, that is, through in-depth field research. A further work package will deal with the transfer of knowledge and the examination of the scientific results in practice. The high quality and relevance of the results is guaranteed by the cooperation between the essential players in this field, who are also the end-users (Ministry of Education, Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism), and the excellent expertise of the scientific partners involved in the consortium.

The research project will result in an analysis of the objectives, strategies, networks and the concrete approaches of extremist organisations in the education sector, including the results of three to five in-depth case studies. In a further report we will analyse the needs and existing prevention measures in the education sector, as well as international and national good practice examples. In knowledge transfer workshops with the end-users involved in the project and in exchange with the Federal Network for the Prevention of Extremism and Deradicalization (BNED) we will jointly develop recommendations for primary prevention in the education sector, as well as multi-agency cooperation in this field. Additionally, the project aims to provide educational material for the prevention work in schools and thus strengthen schools as a primary prevention site.

 The project is funded as part of the Austrian Security Research Programme KIRAS.


Project Partners

Project Period

January 2020 to March 2022

Project Manager

Foto: Hofinger

Veronika Hofinger

Project Team

Werner Reisinger

Ufuk Sahin

Thomas Schmidinger

Rebecca Walter

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