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SAMRISK-2-Samfunnssikkerhet og risiko

Far right politics online and societal resilience

Alternative title: Høyreekstremisme og høyreradikalisme på nett - hvordan påvirkes samfunnet?

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

Project Manager:

Project Number:

295985

Application Type:

Project Period:

2019 - 2023

Location:

Subject Fields:

The online media has created novel opportunities for the production and distribution of content from the far-right, as well as the mobilizing capacity. FREXO examines the broader societal and political impact of this development. In the project the term far-right is used to describe political parties, organizations and groups that can be placed on the right side of the conservative right. On the one hand FREXO studies how the far-right, including alternative media, activists, groups and organizations, create and share content on online platforms. On the other hand, we investigate the effects of far-right content on the general public and targeted groups, such as ethnic and religious minorities and political opponents. The project compares the situation in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The Scandinavian countries shares many similarities, but also differs when it comes to the mobilisation and visibility of the far-right. An important precondition for the project is to define and discuss which actors that can be categorized as far-right. As part of this work, FREXO has reviewed the international literature and researchers in the project have developed a conceptual framework for the project. An insight is that the label far-right must be understood in the context of historical, social, political and cultural boundaries. A study carried out by Jupskås and Bugge Solheim on how the Norwegian population interprets the 22nd of July attacks, can be viewed as part of an exploration of how the far right is defined and interpreted in a given historical context. They identify three conflicting narratives about the causes and victims of the attacks and about the societal response; the democracy narrative, the diversity narrative and the far-right narrative. Support for the different narratives varies by ideological beliefs, partisanship and levels of trust, which can form a basis for political polarization. A phenomenon that is studied in FREXO is the prevalence and use of right-wing alternative media. Studies conducted in the project show that alternative news media position themselves as being in opposition to the established mainstream and that they are often motivated by topics that are important to the far-right, including immigration and Islam. Even though alternative media is relatively modest in terms of readership, they manage to gain visibility on social media and consequently compete for agenda-setting power. The phenomenon is most extensive in Sweden, and the least in Denmark. While the causes are complex, the national differences can be related to the general media environment and the culture for political and public debate about immigration and integration. Studies in FREXO examines analyze boundary work between the alternative end professional field as a consequence of mainstreaming processes from far-right actors. FREXO examines why and when boundary struggles occur, what is at stake (material and symbolic resources), and how the professional field responds. A crucial contribution of FREXO will be to study the impact of social media on both the capacity and the effects of far-right politics, and to enhance reflection about countermeasures. Such knowledge is relevant to stakeholders such as the police, public officials, civil society organizations, and the media in developing strategies in relation to far right politics online.

The primary aim of the FREXO project is to assess how online media affect both the mobilizing capacity and the broader societal and political impact of far right politics. The project is a fully comparative study of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and combines two sub-studies that examine how far right extremist groups (WP1) and hyper-partisan alternative media (WP2) produce and distribute content, with two sub-studies that study the impact of far right communication on public opinion (WP3), and the specific impact of far right online hate speech (WP4). FREXO employs a multi-method approach, combining content analysis, network analysis, survey methods and qualitative interviews. A separate WP (5) is dedicated to drawing out the theoretical and practical conclusions from the empirical studies, and to assess implications for the societal resilience of the Scandinavian countries. The research topics of FREXO are ethically demanding in terms of being politically and normatively sensitive, and concerns for anonymity and data security will be critical in all phases of the project. A crucial contribution of FREXO will be to study the impact of social media on both the capacity and the effects of far right politics, and to enhance reflection about counter-measures. Such knowledge is relevant to stakeholders such as the police, public officials, civil society organizations, and the media in developing strategies in relation to far right politics online. FREXO is interdisciplinary, including experts on far right extremism on the one hand, and experts on the public sphere, digital journalism, public opinion and hate speech, on the other, and it is based on cross-institutional cooperation between the Institute for Social Research, Center for Research of Extremism at the University of Oslo, and Oslo Metropolitan University. A strong and active international advisory board will enhance the capacity of the project to contribute to the international research front.

Publications from Cristin

Activity:

SAMRISK-2-Samfunnssikkerhet og risiko