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Approaches and challenges in evaluating measures taken against right-wing extremism


Hirschi, C; Widmer, T (2012). Approaches and challenges in evaluating measures taken against right-wing extremism. Evaluation and Program Planning, 35(1):171-179.

Abstract

Right-wing extremism has reemerged on the political agenda in Switzerland over the last decade, much as in other European states. Most of the time, right-wing extremism remains latent. However, as soon as a constituency is confronted with manifest right-wing incidents (right-wing extremist group meetings, racist assaults or violence against individuals and groups), the issue reappears in the political sphere. The countermeasures available to governments frequently remain unclear: empirically based evidence on the effectiveness of specific measures is often simply lacking. In this article we argue that this inadequacy is mostly due to the specific characteristics of the particular conditions of conflict and violence that are associated with the phenomenon of ‘right-wing extremism’. These conditions include an often only insufficiently clarified understanding of the phenomenon of ‘right-wing extremism’ as well as a highly sensitive political, social and legal context for countermeasures. Furthermore, the effectiveness of countermeasures is typically strongly dependent on the actors involved as well as their actions and interactions. Implementation is therefore often unique and, as a consequence, difficult to replicate. We will address these specific challenges for evaluation under such conditions in seven case studies. Each case study includes an evaluation of a measure that has been taken against phenomena of right-wing extremism in Switzerland on the federal, state or community level. The case studies show that certain challenges for evaluation can be met by adopting an adequate evaluation design. Other aspects require further investigation and may not be adequately addressed through the evaluation of countermeasures.

Right-wing extremism has reemerged on the political agenda in Switzerland over the last decade, much as in other European states. Most of the time, right-wing extremism remains latent. However, as soon as a constituency is confronted with manifest right-wing incidents (right-wing extremist group meetings, racist assaults or violence against individuals and groups), the issue reappears in the political sphere. The countermeasures available to governments frequently remain unclear: empirically based evidence on the effectiveness of specific measures is often simply lacking. In this article we argue that this inadequacy is mostly due to the specific characteristics of the particular conditions of conflict and violence that are associated with the phenomenon of ‘right-wing extremism’. These conditions include an often only insufficiently clarified understanding of the phenomenon of ‘right-wing extremism’ as well as a highly sensitive political, social and legal context for countermeasures. Furthermore, the effectiveness of countermeasures is typically strongly dependent on the actors involved as well as their actions and interactions. Implementation is therefore often unique and, as a consequence, difficult to replicate. We will address these specific challenges for evaluation under such conditions in seven case studies. Each case study includes an evaluation of a measure that has been taken against phenomena of right-wing extremism in Switzerland on the federal, state or community level. The case studies show that certain challenges for evaluation can be met by adopting an adequate evaluation design. Other aspects require further investigation and may not be adequately addressed through the evaluation of countermeasures.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Right-wing extremism, Countermeasures, Effectiveness, Evaluation use, Switzerland
Language:English
Date:February 2012
Deposited On:06 Jan 2012 11:31
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:14
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0149-7189
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2010.11.003
PubMed ID:21168214

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