Studies of Alt-Right-Subcultures

Seit gestern geht ein Quartz-Artikel von Tim Squirrell rum, in dem er grob seine Untersuchungen der Sprache der Alt-Right vorstellt. Der Artikel ist ganz amüsant, aber für ernsthafte Infos unbrauchbar, fängt schon bei „Taxonomy of Trolls“ an, die er in Shitposters, MRA, Anti-progressive gamers, Anti-globalists und White Supremacists unterteilt, which is bullshit und super-willkürlich. Alle diese Gruppen haben natürlich Anteile von Trollen, aber als Taxonomie ist das schlichtweg unbrauchbar.

Aber: Tim Squirrells eigentliche wissenschaftliche Arbeit zum Thema ist extrem interessant und indeed sehr brauchbar. Die Studien der Alt-Right Open Intelligence Initiative in Amsterdam beinhalten Untersuchungen wie „Mapping the Alt-Right“, „Mapping the issue topics of 4chan“, „Mapping the language of Reddit's Alt-Right Communities“ (das ist die Studie, auf die sich der Artikel bezieht) oder auch „LARPing as a Political Practice – The Emergence of the Superhero Meme “Based Stickman” as an Energizing Mascot for the Alt-Right“ (alles ohne Links, die findet man alle hier auf einer einzigen Seite).

Die ganzen Studien dort haben umfangreichstes Quellenmaterial und ich werd' mich dort am Wochenende durcharbeiten, das ist alles extrem interessant. Der Quartz-Artikel allerdings ist nur nett und ein bisschen amüsant, aber für eine ernsthafte Auseinandersetzung mit dem Thema taugt er nicht, leider.

(Image: „animated GIF of the most-used words in The_Donald by month“)

Key Findings

On Facebook, the alt-right core’s most engaged with content is more extremist, the alt lite’s anti-establishment and the alt-right UK/EU counter-jihadist, thus suggesting a new (and significant) theme to the Alt Right spectrum. The inter-liked page networks for each of the subgroups reveals an insular alt-right core, an alt-lite revolving around Alex Jones, and an UK/EU networked centered around Arktos, with Tommy Robinson isolated. On Twitter the Alt-Right core has ‘significant others’, or those mentioned by 7 or 8 of the core, as indicated by a ‘belonging’ metric; their newly discovered audience, however, is relatively small, as the majority of those they mention are themselves. The alt-right has particular information campaigning styles, including the pairing of hashtags (to link a less extreme issue to one that is more extreme) as well as a particular strategy of event ‘use’, such as in the case of the Berkeley riots over free speech. On YouTube we found emerging ‘alt-right struggles’ where there is disunity as evidenced by the lack of shared channel subscriptions and featured content as well as a great dislike for many of their videos, showing forms of contestation to their otherwise successful online activism.


This project’s aim is to produce open-source intelligence into the alt-right -- the latter described as "amalgam of conspiracy theorists, techno-libertarians, white nationalists, men’s rights advocates, trolls, anti-feminists, anti-immigration activists, and bored young people" (Marwick & Lewis, 2017).
The project thus focused on mapping the alt-right’s online presence and accounting for some of their key strategies. The hope then was that studying the Internet and social media data could lead to insights about the alt-right as ‘influencers’ as well as concerning the story of their rise in the UK and Europe. It was thus the overall aim of this project to operationalise or set the terms in which influence could be defined, measured and accounted for. Analytically speaking, then, we sought to study the alt-right’s influence: in terms of actors most influential “within” a cluster; in terms of relations “across” clusters; and in terms of distinctive audiences “beyond” clusters.