Pathways into Violence


Violence – including interpersonal violence, and politically motivated violence, such as terrorism and extremist violence – constitutes the most extreme form of criminal behavior. Yet, while violent offenders and their offenses have always had a strong scholarly interest, we are still limited in our understanding on why some individuals, who grow up in the same family or neighborhood, follow a pathway into violence while others do not. This life course approach to studying violence and extremism is often hampered by the lack of detailed information on the backgrounds of these violent offenders. Furthermore, prior research in the field is characterized by a monodisciplinary approach to understanding violence.

The research program Physical Violence and Public Order at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs moves past this monodisciplinary approach and adopts an interdisciplinary perspective to studying violent pathways. Together with the research team Terrorism & Counter-terrorism at the LDE Centre for Safety and Security, it aims to bundle interdisciplinary expertise in both teams to improve theoretical and empirical knowledge on violence and extremism. This, in turn, advances our insights that could help inform policies to alter such pathways, and eventually prevent such violence.


For this project, we aim to gain insight into the pathways of violence. We will use an interdisciplinary approach, borrowing concepts from pedagogy (e.g. family relations), psychology (e.g. mental health), criminology (e.g. criminal history and socio-economic factors) and sociology (e.g. employment and educational history), to help further our understanding of pathways into violent behavior.


To be able to study the pathways into violence, we seek to make use of data from the Dutch System of Social Statistical Datasets (SSD). The Dutch System of Social Statistical Datasets (SSD) is a longitudinal database that contains socio-demographic and socioeconomic information on the entire population of the Netherlands. Information on, for example, demographics, households, jobs, education and crime reports is offered on an individual-level. This information is not (readily) available and as detailed in other sources, such as court files and survey research. Since the SSD has such data available for the majority of Dutch citizens, it forms an excellent source to study the pathways of violent offenders .

Follow -up

This project will take approximately 6 months to complete. This includes obtaining permission and gaining access to the SSD, as well as matching, analyzing and reporting on these data.


Finally, we seek to disseminate our findings in a freely accessible Studium Generale. Please stay tuned for news updates.