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Conflict Processes between Youth Groups in a Norwegian City: Polarisation and Revenge

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image of European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

This study analyses the dynamics of conflict between two youth scenes in the Norwegian city of Kristiansand, commonly described as 'the neo-Nazis', and their counterparts, referred to as 'the anti-racists' or 'the Valla Gang'. The 'neo-Nazis' regularly committed acts of violence against other youths belonging to the multi-ethnic youth scene. As such, many of these incidents could clearly be described as acts of racist violence or hate crime. However, through interviews with 50 participants from both sides it became clear that the acts of violence were part of a more complex set of conflict dynamics between youth groups. This involved processes of polarisation within and between the local youth scenes as well as cycles of generalised revenge based on widely shared notions of 'one for all and all for one'. Youth groups and individual actors switched between political identities and gang identities depending on the situation, and conflicts that initially had nothing to do with racism or anti-racism could easily become politicised. Based on an understanding of the conflict processes, several points of intervention could be identified. Several of the interventions gave positive outcomes.


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