The topic of hate group membership and radicalization toward extremist ideologies has received substantial attention in recent years; however, relatively less is known about the process of disengagement and deradicalization. This is troubling because the number of hate groups in the United States has increased and some are known to engage in a variety of violent and criminal behavior. This exploratory study relies on life history interviews with 34 former white supremacists, one of the oldest types of hate groups in the United States, to examine the process of exit from these groups. Findings suggest that exiting is a multifaceted process with a variety of factors that influence a person’s decision to leave. The results also highlight a number of difficulties associated with exiting such as ongoing emotions of guilt, ideological relapse, and maintaining social ties with current members of the white supremacist movement.
Last Published Date: March 13, 2019