Radicalisation in virtual worlds: second life through the eyes of an avatar

James Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores ways in which virtual worlds like Second Life can be used to draw vulnerable individuals through the various stages of radicalisation. It examines the nature of radicalisation and outlines social, cultural, religious and psychological parameters that make some individuals more susceptible than others. The article uses a fictional avatar as the focal point for a journey through various destinations in Second Life. The objective is to present the reader with observational research on what such a journey might be like. The avatar visits a number of Second Life destinations. The content is examined in light of extremist viewpoints and the potential for radicalisation. This journey, and the subsequent analysis, demonstrate the enormous power inherent in these graphic three-dimensional sites to influence the way individuals think. It also underscores the urgent need for multi-disciplinary and multi-national counter-radicalisation strategies that respond to the challenges presented by virtual worlds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-79
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • counter radicalisation
  • radicalisation
  • second life


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