Mainstreaming white supremacy: a twitter analysis of the American ‘Alt-Right’

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Abstract

In this paper, I analyze how the so called ‘alt-right’ is using Twitter to mainstream its politics. Understanding alt-right mainstreaming is important because the movement has embraced a Gramscian view of politics that believes cultural change (e.g. normalizing unpopular ideas) must precede institutional change (e.g. fielding candidates for office). To conduct my analysis I created a sample of 1,000 tweets from six ‘alt-right’ leaders. I then asked two questions about the tweets in this sample: what topics did alt-right leaders talk about most frequently, and how did they talk about them. My findings suggest that the ‘alt-right’s’ mainstreaming efforts on Twitter involve a mix of techniques. In terms of race, the alt-right is trying to normalize white identity politics. However, the movement is turning away from blatant misogyny on Twitter, instead strategically mimicking conservative tropes about women needing male protection. Finally, the alt-right references Europe more frequently than the US, suggesting that Europe is a geographic anchor in alt-right discourse.

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Gallaher, C. (2021). Mainstreaming white supremacy: a twitter analysis of the American ‘Alt-Right.’ Gender, Place and Culture, 28(2), 224–252. https://doi.org/10.1080/0966369X.2019.1710472

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