The Antagonistic Battle between ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ - A qualitative analysis of the interplay between digital hate culture and civil society counter efforts in the comment sections of Facebook

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The Antagonistic Battle between ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ - A qualitative analysis of the interplay between digital hate culture and civil society counter efforts in the comment sections of Facebook

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Publication 2-year master student thesis
Title The Antagonistic Battle between ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ - A qualitative analysis of the interplay between digital hate culture and civil society counter efforts in the comment sections of Facebook
Author Keller, Nadine
Date 2019
English abstract
Departing from the increasing threat that organized hate groups and their manipulative practices pose to contemporary society, this thesis seeks to unravel the workings of digital hate culture and to highlight the potential of civil society-led counter initiatives to combat the spread of hatred online. The research is based on a twofold qualitative content analysis. In a first step, the intended practices of two opposing groups – an organized hate group (Reconquista Germanica) and an organized counter speech group (Reconquista Internet) – are analyzed based on a set of internal strategic communication documents. In a second step, three comment threads on Facebook are examined to illustrate the actualized practices of users spreading hate and users who counter-speak. By drawing on a four-dimensional framework, the analysis thereby considers how practices, discourses, power relations, and the technological affordances of Facebook shape this interplay. With theoretical reference to Mouffe’s (2005) work on the antagonistic nature of the political and today’s post-political Zeitgeist, this thesis ultimately comes to discuss whether such confrontations between exponents of digital hate culture and counter speakers must be understood as irrefutable antagonisms or if productive agonism can be fostered through a mutual understanding of one another as legitimate adversaries. What the analysis evinces is that the discussions carried out between the two opposing camps are highly moralized, resulting in an antagonistic battle between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ that interferes with the possibility for productive agonism. It is further shown that, in this post-political discussion climate, counter speech carries a crucial responsibility to conform to moral values and maintain professional and ethical standards to set itself apart from the harmful practices of digital hate culture. Otherwise, as the analysis indicates, counter efforts are likely to spur on destructive dynamics, further hardening the fronts between opposing positions that characterize today’s increasingly polarized societies.
Publisher Malmö universitet/Kultur och samhälle
Language eng (iso)
Subject agonism
antagonism
counter speech
digital hate culture
right-wing extremism
hate speech
Facebook
Mouffe
qualitative content analysis
user comments
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/30234 Permalink to this page
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