Breaking down the language of racism: a computerised linguistic analysis of racist groups’ self-defining online statements

Nicholas Faulkner, Ana-Maria Bliuc (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Abstract

The Internet representsapowerful tool for racist groups toachieve their collective goals –i.e., disseminatingracist ideologies, increasing their support base, and enhancing theirtransnational influence. Their online presence is carefully and strategically crafted as it often constitutes their first point of contact with potential supporters. To identify linguistic markers or racist (online) communication and key presentational strategies of racistgroups, we examine the languagethey use when describingtheirself-definingbeliefson their websites. A dataset ofgroup online statements of racist self-defining beliefs (N= 102) was analysed using a computerised linguisticanalysis software; we compared this dataset witha baseline of neutral texts(N= 12,173). We found that online self-defining statements of racist groupswere characterised by greater use of divisivelanguage anda strongerfocus on collective identity. Weidentified an increased use of religion and anger words, and reduced use of sadness and cognitive complexity words. We conclude by discussingimplications of these findingsfor designing policiesaiming to counteractthe harmful societal effects of racist groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-322
Number of pages16
JournalAnalyses of Social Issues and Public Policy
Volume18
Issue number1
Early online date27 May 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2018

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