Cynthia Miller-Idriss, an associate professor of international education and educational sociology in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, has been awarded a $40,000 Spencer Foundation grant for a project titled, ‘The Extreme Goes Mainstream? School Bans and New Right-Wing Extremist Forms in Germany.’
Widespread commercialization of right-wing consumer products and clothing in Germany is successfully blending mainstream pop culture with right-wing symbols and ideology. German authorities have banned a wide variety of right-wing extremist symbols, brands and logos, either from particular settings (like schools, soccer stadiums or Parliament) or from public display more generally. The bans, however, have fostered a creative game-playing culture among right-wing extremist youth, who subvert bans on symbols by rapidly modifying and transforming them into new symbols.
Through interviews with students and teachers and observations at two German schools, Miller-Idriss’ will gather empirical evidence to determine whether school bans are effective at preventing extremism — or whether youth who wear such clothing and display coded symbols engage in extremist behaviors or hold extremist beliefs.
“The central research question in this project is about the meaning of right-wing extremist symbols for youth and the relationship of school bans to youth’s use of symbols and products,” Miller-Idriss said.