Author Biography

Wiliam Costanza is Assistant Professor in the Department of Forensic and Legal Psychology at Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia. He earned a Doctorate in Liberal Studies from Georgetown University and a Masters of Arts degree in International Studies from American University, Washington, DC. Prior to entering academia, Dr. Costanza served 24 years as operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency including work in counterterrorism. His doctoral dissertation focused on developing a new framework to understand the radicalization process of youth in different cultural contexts.



Subject Area Keywords

Fundamentalism, Psychology, Radicalization, Terrorism / counterterrorism, Violent extremism


The article intends to provide an alternative perspective to examine the radicalization process. It rejects the causal paradigm in favor of a discursive approach that focuses on understanding psychological phenomena as revealed in discourse. My central argument is that a discursive approach offers greater explanatory power than is offered by the causal, reductionist approach that currently dominates the field. My article concludes by offering an interdisciplinary framework that uses discursive psychology as a mode of explanation to better understand how radicalization may occur at the individual level in various sociocultural contexts as a product of lived experience. The framework employs positioning theory as an analytic tool to examine discursive exchanges to provide insight into pathways to the development of radical belief systems among at-risk youth.