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Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Violent Extremism

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By the time Matthias was in seventh grade, he felt he’d better belong to some group, lest he be alone and vulnerable. The punks and anarchists were identifiable by their tattoos and hairstyles and music. But it was the skinheads who captured his imagination. They had great parties, and everyone seemed afraid of them. “They really represented what it meant to be a strong ma By the time Matthias was in seventh grade, he felt he’d better belong to some group, lest he be alone and vulnerable. The punks and anarchists were identifiable by their tattoos and hairstyles and music. But it was the skinheads who captured his imagination. They had great parties, and everyone seemed afraid of them. “They really represented what it meant to be a strong man,” he said.   What draws young men into violent extremist groups? What are the ideologies that inspire them to join? And what are the emotional bonds forged that make it difficult to leave, even when they want to?   Having conducted in-depth interviews with ex–white nationalists and neo-Nazis in the United States, as well as ex-skinheads and ex-neo-Nazis in Germany and Sweden, renowned sociologist Michael Kimmel demonstrates the pernicious effects that constructions of masculinity have on these young recruits. Kimmel unveils how white extremist groups wield masculinity to recruit and retain members—and to prevent them from exiting the movement. Young men in these groups often feel a sense of righteous indignation, seeing themselves as victims, their birthright upended in a world dominated by political correctness. Offering the promise of being able to "take back their manhood," these groups leverage stereotypes of masculinity to manipulate despair into white supremacist and neo-Nazi hatred.   Kimmel combines individual stories with a multiangled analysis of the structural, political, and economic forces that marginalize these men to shed light on their feelings, yet make no excuses for their actions. Healing from Hate reminds us of some men's efforts to exit the movements and reintegrate themselves back into society and is a call to action to those who make it out to help those who are still trapped.


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By the time Matthias was in seventh grade, he felt he’d better belong to some group, lest he be alone and vulnerable. The punks and anarchists were identifiable by their tattoos and hairstyles and music. But it was the skinheads who captured his imagination. They had great parties, and everyone seemed afraid of them. “They really represented what it meant to be a strong ma By the time Matthias was in seventh grade, he felt he’d better belong to some group, lest he be alone and vulnerable. The punks and anarchists were identifiable by their tattoos and hairstyles and music. But it was the skinheads who captured his imagination. They had great parties, and everyone seemed afraid of them. “They really represented what it meant to be a strong man,” he said.   What draws young men into violent extremist groups? What are the ideologies that inspire them to join? And what are the emotional bonds forged that make it difficult to leave, even when they want to?   Having conducted in-depth interviews with ex–white nationalists and neo-Nazis in the United States, as well as ex-skinheads and ex-neo-Nazis in Germany and Sweden, renowned sociologist Michael Kimmel demonstrates the pernicious effects that constructions of masculinity have on these young recruits. Kimmel unveils how white extremist groups wield masculinity to recruit and retain members—and to prevent them from exiting the movement. Young men in these groups often feel a sense of righteous indignation, seeing themselves as victims, their birthright upended in a world dominated by political correctness. Offering the promise of being able to "take back their manhood," these groups leverage stereotypes of masculinity to manipulate despair into white supremacist and neo-Nazi hatred.   Kimmel combines individual stories with a multiangled analysis of the structural, political, and economic forces that marginalize these men to shed light on their feelings, yet make no excuses for their actions. Healing from Hate reminds us of some men's efforts to exit the movements and reintegrate themselves back into society and is a call to action to those who make it out to help those who are still trapped.

30 review for Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Violent Extremism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ina Cawl

    Young men around world are angry and we are perceiving the first symptoms of that anger around the world. from the rise of ISIS in Muslim world to populist and alt-right politics in Europe to mass shootings in America in all of this the Men are showing signs of of resistance to women empowerment and change of roles in modern family longer review to come

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I found this an insightful book but I was a little disappointed that Kimmel does not critique the toxic construct of masculinity that makes young men vulnerable to "aggrieved entitlement," violence, lack of social support and emotional intimacy, and stunted emotional growth in the first place. I think it would also be worth exploring parallels between violent extremist groups and militaries with regard to recruitment/ motivation to join. I found this an insightful book but I was a little disappointed that Kimmel does not critique the toxic construct of masculinity that makes young men vulnerable to "aggrieved entitlement," violence, lack of social support and emotional intimacy, and stunted emotional growth in the first place. I think it would also be worth exploring parallels between violent extremist groups and militaries with regard to recruitment/ motivation to join.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

    The personal stories were really eye-opening. This is something I do not understand at all, being in such a terrible state that you're swept up into groups like this. The personal stories were really eye-opening. This is something I do not understand at all, being in such a terrible state that you're swept up into groups like this.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    This was interesting in terms of vignettes and personal stories, and makes the case that young men – which is the predominant population in hate groups – can leave and regain a more balanced approach to life. There is a proposition that all types of hate groups on all sides, function in the same way, and fill a lonely place these men have in their hearts. Islam or islamophobic, white or black, the men have a similar need. The redemption stories are also interesting and similar in the way help gro This was interesting in terms of vignettes and personal stories, and makes the case that young men – which is the predominant population in hate groups – can leave and regain a more balanced approach to life. There is a proposition that all types of hate groups on all sides, function in the same way, and fill a lonely place these men have in their hearts. Islam or islamophobic, white or black, the men have a similar need. The redemption stories are also interesting and similar in the way help groups have been started to help them. It isn’t a book that engaged me a lot, and perhaps I was expecting a study. In many ways, the anecdotes have as much value, but began to seem like the same story over and over again.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John

    An examination of was forces are leading men to join extremist groups; one of the major factors being perceived assaults to their masculinity. This is a somewhat "obvious" book in terms of intuitively making sense with no large revelations. However, the real "meat" is the interview with former members of extremist groups and what got them out of the cycle. This qualitative aspect brings a human side to it, without empathizing with those assholes. (I.e. Amazon had a few negative reviews with peop An examination of was forces are leading men to join extremist groups; one of the major factors being perceived assaults to their masculinity. This is a somewhat "obvious" book in terms of intuitively making sense with no large revelations. However, the real "meat" is the interview with former members of extremist groups and what got them out of the cycle. This qualitative aspect brings a human side to it, without empathizing with those assholes. (I.e. Amazon had a few negative reviews with people not clearing reading the book, calling the author a "cuck".)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mark Fulk

    this is a powerful and important book. his organization is not always clear. for instance, a lot of the best bits about hate group in the US is in the section on Great Britain. he shows, indirectly, the evil of the u.s. obsession with Islam and it's few terrorist s, whereas there is clearly more Danger from homegrown, alt right, white supremacist then there is those who follow Islam. all in all, a great read. this is a powerful and important book. his organization is not always clear. for instance, a lot of the best bits about hate group in the US is in the section on Great Britain. he shows, indirectly, the evil of the u.s. obsession with Islam and it's few terrorist s, whereas there is clearly more Danger from homegrown, alt right, white supremacist then there is those who follow Islam. all in all, a great read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christine Spilka

    Super relevant topic in today's society. Interesting read Super relevant topic in today's society. Interesting read

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I didn't quite finish this, but I think I read enough to rate it. It was interesting but really seemed to be missing something. Basically he says men get into extremist movements because they like white power music, are looking for a group of friends, are fat (ok, he doesn't say that exactly, but he really likes to tell us when his subjects are "chubby" and how they were bullied), and their parents are divorced. It seems so surface-level, and I guess that is partly his point, that racism isn't a I didn't quite finish this, but I think I read enough to rate it. It was interesting but really seemed to be missing something. Basically he says men get into extremist movements because they like white power music, are looking for a group of friends, are fat (ok, he doesn't say that exactly, but he really likes to tell us when his subjects are "chubby" and how they were bullied), and their parents are divorced. It seems so surface-level, and I guess that is partly his point, that racism isn't always so deep-seated, that people just get drawn in when they're looking for a place to belong. But most of the traits that he says make someone susceptible are so common that it didn't feel like a sufficient explanation. Plus he kept saying masculinity was a major factor but never really talked about the ways masculine hegemony is conveyed in ordinary non-skinhead culture. The parts about how men "jump", i.e. leave racist extremist groups also disappointed me. He says generally people jump because they get older and can't handle all the parties and fights, or because their girlfriends want them to leave, or because they notice some hypocrisy in the group leaders. Most of these reasons don't offer any potential action steps for people who want to encourage extremists to leave, we just need to wait for them to get older. He does mention contact with the hated groups as a factor, though he attributes contact theory to someone named Pettigrew instead of Gordon Allport. I wish he had separated the discussion of unaffiliating from an extremist group (which one can do without changing beliefs) from the actual unraveling of racist beliefs. If someone stops being an active skinhead but still votes for racist politicians then I don't see their "jumping" as that much of a victory.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sami Eerola

    Another great book from Kimmel. He may have accusations of sexual harassment over him, but the research is top notch. The book is based on interviews of current and ex-violent extremists (Neo-Nazis and Jihadists) that takes a gendered approach on the analyses of their radicalisation Incredibly the gendered approach dos not present nothing much new about radicalization that other researchers have not found. That just shows that the main components of radicalization are already known. Just the deta Another great book from Kimmel. He may have accusations of sexual harassment over him, but the research is top notch. The book is based on interviews of current and ex-violent extremists (Neo-Nazis and Jihadists) that takes a gendered approach on the analyses of their radicalisation Incredibly the gendered approach dos not present nothing much new about radicalization that other researchers have not found. That just shows that the main components of radicalization are already known. Just the details are contested. The most interesting thing is that the ages between 13-15 are the most dangerous for a young male of any demographic. It is in that age that they seek a ideal model of manhood and if their family have none, they will find it on the streets and internet.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ida

    I read this book in a sociology class for analytical purposes. Although I found it really interesting, I must say it also left me with unanswered questions. The link between theory and the empirical data does not feel solid, because anomalies and contradictions are not elaborated enough

  11. 5 out of 5

    szymborskalyte

    My heart does break for these noxious men. I’m not being sardonic. Really.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alan

  13. 4 out of 5

    Aleksandra Herzyk

  14. 5 out of 5

    Zane

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christine

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marieke

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

  18. 4 out of 5

    Viral

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sting Daniels

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rain

  23. 4 out of 5

    HeleneKlyve

  24. 4 out of 5

    Helen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bagun

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jules

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kelli Jon

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jin

  29. 5 out of 5

    Athena Kolbe

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ki

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