The past decade has witnessed a steady increase in far right politics, social movements, and extremist violence in Europe. Scholars and policymakers have struggled to understand the causes and dynamics that have made the far right so appealing to so many people—in other words, that have made the extreme more mainstream. In this book, Cynthia Miller-Idriss examines how extremist ideologies have entered mainstream German culture through commercialized products and clothing laced with extremist, anti-Semitic, racist, and nationalist coded symbols and references.
Drawing on a unique digital archive of thousands of historical and contemporary images, as well as scores of interviews with young people and their teachers in two German vocational schools with histories of extremist youth presence, Miller-Idriss shows how this commercialization is part of a radical transformation happening today in German far right youth subculture. She describes how these young people have gravitated away from the singular, hard-edged skinhead style in favor of sophisticated and fashionable commercial brands that deploy coded extremist symbols. Virtually indistinguishable in style from other popular clothing, the new brands desensitize far right consumers to extremist ideas and dehumanize victims.
Required reading for anyone concerned about the global resurgence of the far right, The Extreme Gone Mainstream reveals how style and aesthetic representation serve as one gateway into extremist scenes and subcultures by helping to strengthen racist and nationalist identification and by acting as conduits of resistance to mainstream society.
Cynthia Miller-Idriss is professor of education and sociology at American University. Her books include Blood and Culture: Youth, Right-Wing Extremism, and National Belonging in Contemporary Germany.
"This is a necessary book for anyone wanting to better understand the rituals and strategies being used in far-right cultures as they attempt to bring xenophobic, fascistic ideologies to the mainstream."—Louie Dean Valencia-Garcia, EuropeNow
"Highly original."—Cas Mudde, FiveBooks
"This book comes at a time that could hardly be more important. Miller-Idriss opens up a completely new approach to understanding the processes of violent radicalization through subcultural products. The Extreme Gone Mainstream will surely become a standard work in the study of right-wing extremism."—Daniel Koehler, founder and director of the German Institute on Radicalization and De-Radicalization Studies
"Miller-Idriss attacks the burning question of the rise of the far right in Europe from a particularly original angle—the mobilization of everyday consumption by disenfranchised German youth to signal their allegiance with the neo-Nazi movement. The Extreme Gone Mainstream is a brilliant and ambitious contribution to the study of symbolic iconography and youth interpretation of political symbols."—Michèle Lamont, coauthor of Getting Respect: Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil, and Israel
"A highly original and innovative work. Miller-Idriss has written an extraordinarily rich, well-argued, and compelling book that breaks new ground both in theories of culture and scholarship on the far right. The Extreme Gone Mainstream is a model for future research in the social scientific study of material culture."—Kathleen M. Blee, author of Inside Organized Racism: Women in the Hate Movement
"This book is unique in its scope, original in its focus, and magisterial in its execution—a tour de force of research that tells us how the right inserts itself into the fabric of everyday life. Miller-Idriss writes clearly and with verve."—Mabel Berezin, author of Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times: Culture, Security, and Populism in the New Europe