Exit Neo-Nazism : Reducing Recruitment and Promoting Disengagement from Racist Groups

Working Paper, NUPI
Written by

Tore Bjørgo

Former employee


Young persons belonging to various types of right-wing extremist groups commit a large proportion of xenophobic and racist attacks. Measures against racial violence should therefore include interventions that reduce and (preferably) dissolve such groups. To be effective, this requires knowledge about how such groups emerge and operate, and in particular, on processes of recruitment and disengagement. Through early intervention, it is possible to reduce recruitment of new members to racist youth groups, and also facilitate (early) disengagement for those who are already involved with the group. Although most members of racist groups leave sooner or later, it is important that they quit sooner rather than later – before they hurt others, and before they have internalised a racist world-view and a violent pattern of behaviour. The article describes reasons for why some young people join racist groups; factors and circumstances that cause most of them eventually to consider disengaging; and what prevents some of them from doing so. The Exit project was started to develop methods and strategies for reducing recruitment and facilitating disengagement from racist groups. Beginning in Norway in 1996–97, the Exit approach was subsequently adopted and developed further in Sweden, with strong results. From there, the Exit approach spread on to Germany, where there are now a number of private and staterun initiatives to promote disengagement from neo-Nazi groups. There are also Exit initiatives in several other European countries.