Street culture and jihadism

This project examines the relationship between street culture and militant jihadi movements.

About the project

Many radicalized individuals, including terrorists and foreign fighters, have a background in street culture and a history of crime. Some of these individuals became radicalized because of a fascination with the cultural style and stories of jihadi movements, because they wanted to experience the excitement of militant action, because they wanted to give their life new meaning and purpose, or because they hoped to change the world according to extremist principles.

The project will provide new knowledge about the relationship between street culture and jihadi culture, with a special focus on the mechanisms that motivate and demotivate street youths from becoming radicalized.


The project is based on an intensive 4 months long ethnographic fieldwork and more than 30 interviews in the inner city of Oslo. The focus is on young Muslims who are involved in street culture, meaning that they spend a lot of time in crime-ridden outdoor areas or that they are directly involved in street crimes such as drug dealing and street fights.


The findings suggest that street youths are overwhelmingly opposed to jihadism. This opposition, and the reasons behind, are the focus of analysis. A deeper understanding of this opposition may inform future efforts to reduce extremist violence and improve the lives of street youths.

Selected media appearances

"How Gangsters Become Jihadists (And Why Most Don’t): Bourdieu, Criminology, and the Crime-Terror Nexus" on University of Oxford's Centre for Criminology 

Published Sep. 21, 2016 12:50 PM - Last modified Feb. 4, 2019 10:11 AM