International Sociology and International Sociology Reviews

Topic of the Month, March 2022

‘Preventing youth radicalization’ is our Topic of the Month for March 2022. On this topic, enjoy Free Access all month to this article by Janja Vuga Beršnak and Iztok Prezelj (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) and published in International Sociology, Recognizing youth radicalization in schools: Slovenian ‘frontline’ school workers in search of a compass. Read on to know more about the authors’ trajectory and work.

Janja Vuga Beršnak

Iztok Prezelj

Why are you working on this topic? Could you share an experience, a fact, or a person who made you get engaged in that research?

J. Vuga Beršnak: I have been researching the military as a social group for the past decade and have vast experience with the field work. Through years I have been narrowing my research to military families, emphasising the children and youth. Due to my experience in researching at the micro family level, I have been invited to participate in the research project on radicalization and de-radicalization. I have focused on youth and the school system. Besides, I also teach the crisis management and contemporary security.

I. Prezelj: I teach a graduate course on terrorism and counter terrorism and under-graduate course on intelligence. It turns out that terrorist attacks represent only the end of the radicalization spectrum and that we need to improve our understanding of the path to extremism and terrorism. This path is very complex, there are many variables and we lack research with hard data. As a participant of the PTSS (Program on terrorism and security studies, George C. Marshall Center - European Center for Security Studies) in 2005 and Adjunct Professor at the same program in 2014, I realized that monitoring and preventing radicalization requires not only intelligence and police work, but also engagement of many other institutions from society, including schools and universities. Additionally, statistics on perpetrators of terrorist acts show that these acts are carried mostly by younger people. Preparedness to detect and monitor radicalization towards the use of violence in many educational institutions is not really high. This is what motivated me to start writing project proposals on this theme.

Do you have any video, recorded conference, or online material that you would like us to share with others?

I. Prezelj: Interagency or intersectoral cooperation is key in dealing with radicalization, extremism and terrorism. Good interagency cooperation is sometimes considered as a holly grail of modern counter-terrorism. Here are my two sources that deal with this issue:

J. Vuga Beršnak: The radicalization prevention and early recognition is carried out on various levels. On the micro level, the strong social network (i.e., family, school, friends) is an important factor, while on the macro national level the adequate security culture, policies and country's systems (e.g., school system) are important. Researching aforementioned is important also for the understanding the radicalization among the youth.

  • Cultural characteristics of Slovenian society and its attitude towards the security. Ljubljana: Fakulteta za družbene vede, Založba FDV, 2021. ISBN 978-961-235-967-6. [COBISS.SI-ID 59387907]
  • Military specific risk and protective factors for military family health outcomes: developing of the model. Sodobni vojaški izzivi, ISSN 2232-2825. [Tiskana izd.], jun. 2020, letn. 22, št. 2, str. 37-49., doi: 10.33179/BSV.99.SVI.11.CMC.22.2.2. [COBISS.SI-ID 19919619]

What would you emphasize about your academic trajectory? Can you highlight which have been your academic positions, universities, awards, departments and research centers?

Janja Vuga Beršnak, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana. She was Minister of defence’s advisor for the national crisis management. As a national representative she has been researching within various NATO working groups. Currently she is leading the research process in the field of the military sociology, focusing on children and families. Her research endeavours have been carried out among soldiers at ISSMI and she also researched in field among Slovenian soldiers deployed in Tchad/CAR, UNIFIL and KFOR.

Iztok Prezelj, Ph.D., is a Professor and Dean at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. As a Vice-Dean for Scientific Research in the period 2017-2021, he was directing research process at the Institute of Social Sciences with 20 research centers. He was also a Head of Defence Studies in the period from 2015-2017. Iztok Prezelj published widely in the fields of national and international security, crisis management, threat and risk assessment, terrorism and counter-terrorism, and critical infrastructure. He was a guest researcher or lecturer at the Princeton University, Leiden University, University of Sarajevo, University of Vienna, WEU Institute for Security Studies, etc. At the George C. Marshall Center - European Center for Security Studies, he was an Adjunct Professor in the Programme on terrorism and counter-terrorism (PTSS) in 2014. He is also a president of the Euro-Atlantic Council of Slovenia. Dr. Prezelj comments regularly on security issues for the national and foreign media. He obtained his Ph.D. in 2004 at the University of Ljubljana on the topic of crisis management.

Social media account: Iztok Prezelj is on Facebook at