The growth and relative success of the 'jihadist' group calling itself 'Islamic State' (IS) has, at the time of writing, contributed to an escalation of confl icts in Iraq and Syria. An estimated 2000 of its fi ghters are Westerners who have travelled to those countries to undertake jihad. Media reports, including social media, suggest that at least some of them have been involved in a variety of brutal acts of violence, including rapes, videoed beheadings, crucifi xions and mass executions. How and why people from the West, who have grown up in relative security and relatively violence-free societies come to undertake such acts, and actively seek to become involved in violent confl icts is a hugely complex problem. 

By examining some of the fi gurational conditions under which Westerners become involved in global jihad and, in some cases, acts of extreme violence some light can be shed on the issue. There are some specific processes and relationships that play important roles in the Westerners becoming 'jihadists'. Th ese include 'civilising' and 'decivilising' processes and associated established-outsider relations.

Keywords: Terrorism, Jihadists, Civilising, Decivilising, Established-Outsider Relations, Brutalisation, Norbert Elias

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