Last semester I produced a digital artifact that examined the rise, conditions and methods of the ‘Alt-Right’. Back then, while I regarded the alt-right as a disturbing evolution of nationalism, I still honestly doubted the main stream public support for Donald Trump. Those were the days.
For my current digital artifact I intend to re-examine the alt-right, which now exists in what I imagine is a perpetual state of vindication, satisfaction and glee. I intend to use the same resources, media outlets the same social media accounts to re-assess the conclusions and observations I made about the alt-right previously and to expand upon them where possible.
More specifically, I’m interested in observing the approach that the alt-right has to the mainstream media now and comparing that to the approach exhibited by alt-righters prior to the election. As I established in my original digital artifact, large portions of the alt-right and key twitter users, some with over 50,000 followers, obviously and overtly disdained the media for what they interpreted as a persecution of their beliefs. I’m interested to establish whether the previous sense of persecution remains, to what it extent remains and how else this dynamic has been affected by the alt-right becoming a more represented and dominating political force with election victory.
Along the way I plan to reassess and update the sections, or chapters, of my previous study. I will re-investigate the language, update the meme banks and attempt to re-establish what limited contact I had with alt-right social media personalities.
In regard to established academic and journalistic research, I will be re-invoking the research articles I have previously studied, specifically Bartoszewicz’s ’50 Shades of Radicalism’, as well as providing a literature review on the topic. At the time of my original research the alt-right was being discussed and analysed more by journalists, but with the passing of time and the escalation of the Trump ‘situation’ some sectors of academia have begun to assess the alt-right in detail. Though the academic attention is at this stage still relatively light, I intend to scour what research I can find to form a greater understanding of the movement and to comprehend the understanding that academics have of the widely overlooked and complex topic.
As I mentioned earlier, during my previous research I was briefly in contact with the operators of multiple popular alt-right twitter accounts. Unfortunately, the response rate for these was low and when a dialogue could be established the information the operators provided was of little or no value. I intend to attempt this again with previous respondents as well as un-contacted operators. Though a great deal of valuable first hand research could be gathered from this, based on previous experience I do not hold great expectations for this direct method.
Though it might be too much to promise at this early stage, I also intend to investigate, however successfully, far-right cybercultures and their effects on their local politics. This will include an examination of the so called ‘dingo twitter’ in Australia and any utilisation of alt-right iconography in social media leading up to the French general elections next month.
Again, just as before I intend to present my research via a multimedia blog. While I value videos, podcasts and the like for their informative potential, I intend my research to be quasi-academic. As such, the majority of my findings will be presented via simple text with supporting images, videos, tweets, feeds or other limited multimedia. Though hardly the most innovative method of delivery, I believe that this is the best manner in which to present my research.
Of course, all research must present some utility. In my case, I honestly believe that my research contribution will, in whatever small way, provide an insight into the manifestation of xenophobia and neo-nationalism online, an issue that I honestly believe does not receive the academic attention it deserves. Again, I am hardly an academic authority on anything, but this is an opportunity to make a small contribution that hopefully inspires or contributes to a larger research effort.
The manner in which our political systems interact with the expanding mediascape is not only a personal interest, but what I believe to be one of the most important developments of our age. Social media is becoming more powerful and effective in it’s effects on Government policy. As corny as it seems, this can just as easily become a force for the determent of society. It is only though studying and understand things like the alt-right now that we will be able to predict and prevent equally undesirable movements from having an effect on future political process. I am excited to attempt to contribute to this understanding with my research.