The psychologisation of counter-extremism: unpacking PREVENT

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The burgeoning ‘pre-crime’ industry reveals a deep overlap between national security and mental health. The UK’s counter-radicalisation policy, PREVENT, is exemplary in this regard. PREVENT mandates a duty for public bodies, such as healthcare staff, to identify and report ‘at risk’ individuals in the ‘war on terror’. Research has shown how racialised Muslims embody ‘threat’ in public consciousness, though the UK government denies institutionalising racism. This article explores how British nationalism in a ‘post-racial era’ necessitates psychologisation to evade the charge of racism in the management of Muslim political agency. By unpacking PREVENT policy documents and training, this article will explore how the counter-radicalisation industry of the ‘war on terror’ reveals the triangular relationship between 1) racialisation of Muslims under nationalism, 2) psychologisation of the political and its associated colourblindness, and 3) the nation-state’s management of dissent. The various performative dimensions of psychologisation will be discussed, as they relate to universalising, detecting and managing the threat of radicalisation. This article will conclude with a proposition: psychologisation is necessary in conceptualising state repression and institutional racism in the modern age.




Younis, T. (2021). The psychologisation of counter-extremism: unpacking PREVENT. Race and Class, 62(3), 37–60.

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