Conspiracy theories and violent extremism: an analysis of extremist manifestos using Sykes and Matza's neutralization techniques

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceUnpublished abstract


Conspiracy theories are a growing point of interest worldwide and research on this topic is booming. Although conspiracy theories have always existed, they seem to be more prominent in our current society and have been a cause of concern for both academics as well as the general public. In addition to the impact conspiracy theories can have on political and societal narratives and discourses, studies have emphasized the link between (the belief in) conspiracy theories and violence and several recent incidents seem to support this claim (e.g., shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and El Paso, US). Although research shows there is a link between conspiracy theories and violence, how exactly this link takes shape is still unclear. My doctoral research focuses on this lacuna, and I aim to study the relationship between the belief in conspiracy theories and violence using Sykes’ and Matza’s neutralization techniques.

I will present preliminary findings from the first phase of my research, during which I conducted analyses of manifestos written by extremist offenders using Sykes and Matza’s theoretical framework. Manifestos are particularly interesting to analyze, considering they offer unique insights into the offender’s motivations prior to a violent act. By using this theoretical framework, I aim to gain more insight into what it means to neutralize social control and how these techniques effectively neutralize social control.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 7 Sep 2023
EventEuropean Society of Criminology - Educatorio Fuligno, Firenze, Italy
Duration: 6 Sep 20239 Sep 2023


ConferenceEuropean Society of Criminology


  • conspiracy theories
  • Neutralization
  • violent extremism


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