Master’s Thesis: “Collective Identity Construction in the Alt-Right Movement”

Here is the abstract of a masters thesis titled “I’m tired of being sh-t on for being white”: Collective identity construction in the Alt-Right movement:

This thesis examines collective identity construction within the extreme right movement Alt-Right that gained public recognition during the 2016 US presidential campaign. Despite it being an increasingly stigmatized practice to openly articulate racist ideas in contemporary society, the Alt-Right movement managed to gain a following by doing just that. As collective identity funds collective action, a discourse analysis in line with Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s strand of discourse theory was conducted to understand what encourages and facilitates participation in the movement’s activities. The material consisted of articles connected to three different factions of the Alt-Right published online and the subsequent comments generated by these. The findings indicate that the collective identity constructed in the Alt-Right is white, masculine and heterosexual. This identity is constructed and reified through contrasting themselves against racialized and gendered Others. It is also reinforced by signs of intelligence, enlightenment, bravery and a sense of rebelliousness and fun linked to the collective identity. The Others are primarily constructed as the Jewish community, non-white groups, women and the LGBTQ community. The use of new information and communications technology facilitated the construction, in allowing participants to create virtual communities online where the collective identity was constructed and reified.

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