Extreme familiar: Support Systems for radicalized families

Investigating professional actions in public social care work with right-wing extremists


Child and youth welfare services face special challenges: On the one hand, there are the conflicting objectives between help and control as well as between the mandates of social work towards clients, society and professional ethics. On the other hand, there are clear legal requirements. A particular challenge in this context are strongly ideologised or fanatical family members and environments. The important role of the family environment plays for later radicalisation. Ideologically based forms of upbringing can include violence as well as practices that endanger a child’s well-being, such as isolation, disciplining and fear. 

Project aim

This PhD project is focussed on professional measures in child and youth welfare when faced with families or relatives whose world and educational views originate from political right-wing extremism. The research question is: "What strategies do professionals in public social work design to support extreme right-wing families?

Project content

Wherever ideologised people act in a planned manner, professional response is challenging. Accordingly, the following questions are addressed:

  • What and who is perceived as "extreme right" and how is this discussed and reflected from a professional point of view?
  • What role do reports from kindergartens, schools or police play in the labelling and perception of families (members) as "right-wing"?
  • What role do perceptions, interpretations and concerns play in understanding the case and in planned measures (with children and families)?
  • How do professionals themselves deal with the challenge of from dealing with potentially extremely inhuman views?


Data is collected from guideline-based interviews with case-leading social workers and their documentations. In a circular research approach, data collection and evaluation phases alternate in order to enable theoretical testing of initial hypotheses and findings and, to allow if necessary, to amend the research design. The results of the study will be put to an expert “sounding board” to allow critical review. The results of this will also be integrated into the project outcome. The results of this study will help to understand and systematize successful measures and thus make them accessible to this sector.

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Department of Social Sciences
Location: B - Campus-Platz 1
M: +43/676/847 228 557
Gesellschaft für Forschungsförderung Niederösterreich (vormals NFB Science Calls: Dissertationen)
10/01/2020 – 09/30/2023
Involved Institutes, Groups and Centers
Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research