- Publication date
- 10 September 2021
- Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs
Incels are a highly diverse phenomenon. In recent years and in much of the wider discourse, the focus has been placed on the violent sub-forms of this phenomenon and, sometimes, on its potential interlinkages with violent extremist ideologies and related scenes. This small-scale meeting set out to increase understanding and further discuss the controversial topic of Involuntary Celibates, or Incels.
The meeting also addressed their potential links to violence, as well as the need to engage with this topic in the context of prevention and countering of violent extremism (P/CVE). Participants discussed key facts about the underlying concepts and ideas, as well as its followers. Considering the growing attention this issue has received in public and professional debates in recent months, the meeting’s objective was also to discuss whether P/CVE practitioners should respond to this complex phenomenon, and if they should, to what extent, how and where.
Due to its exploratory nature, the overarching aim included mapping existing challenges as well as outlining first ideas on how RAN and P/CVE practitioners can further engage with the topic in the future.
Important insights gained from included the following:
- Significant further awareness-raising measures are necessary to spread knowledge about the phenomenon, its different strands, complexities and multi-facetted follower base among the P/CVE community.
- Additional direct practical work and research with persons currently or formerly involved in the phenomenon is necessary to better understand individual pathways into and out of the mindset and belief system.
- Similar to other contemporary phenomena, the fact that Incel communities tend to be only visible online creates a barrier for current P/CVE approaches to interact with their members.
- As is the case with other digital communities, interactions among community members are characterised by high levels of very dark humour desensitised to violence, layers of irony, and specific terminology. This makes it difficult to detect warning signs about the potential use of violence (against themselves and others).
- The strong stigma surrounding mental health support needs to be tackled among members of this target group who show disproportionally high rates of mental health problems.