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Migration and Home Affairs
Expert opinion

RAN C&N The Incel Phenomenon, online meeting 17-18 June 2021


Publication date
16 August 2021
Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs
RAN Publications Topic


The incel phenomenon is being studied more and more, from a P/CVE perspective as well. As there are links between certain parts of the incel movement to (other) types of extremism, it is important to try to understand what is going on in this mostly online world.

During the RAN Communication and Narratives (C&N) Working Group meeting on the incel phenomenon, the focus was on exploring the underlying issues and root causes that result in the potential threat incels pose to themselves and others.

Key meeting outcomes:

  1. While not all incels are violent, incels’ online ecosystem breeds and encourages extreme attitudes related to suicide, interpersonal violence and violent misogyny. Awareness of the depth of the underlying issues is crucial to be able to acknowledge their grievances and needs (e.g. societal pressures/norms, identity, belonging, security, ostracism, etc.).
  2. The incel ideology differs from many other (extremist) ideologies or communities. While issues like isolation, loneliness and mental health, and dealing with bullying can also be underlying concerns in other ideologies, they are very much present at the forefront of the incel community/ideology. They feel they did not choose their identity, but were forced into it.
  3. A whole-of-society approach is needed by training all first line practitioners (not only the ones with a focus on P/CVE) on the topic of incels. The aim is to raise awareness and start discussing underlying issues early on (primary prevention) with a focus on the risk of suicide, using an empathetic approach and trying to strengthen the internal locus of control.
  4. Regarding treatment, it is important to recognise incels’ trauma/very real grievances while not encouraging their ideology. Work on mental health awareness and against the stigma amongst incels. Portray self-help as a strength, not a weakness.
  5. When proposing alternative narratives, offer alternative representations of masculinity (that are not the typical alpha man stereotype, but are seen as masculine/attractive) and convey that many people feel overwhelmed by social and moral uncertainty, ‘chaos’ and injustice, and these are normal reactions to a complex world.
RAN C&N The Incel Phenomenon cover


RAN C&N The Incel Phenomenon
(689.68 KB - PDF)