Big Data and the resurgence of the far right within the United States of America

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The internet is fast becoming a key source of data for research on criminal and extremist groups, with the far right proving the most experienced and adept at utilising its power to mobilise individuals within a principle of leaderless resistance. As the first known extremist group to use the internet through the launch of Stormfront, the White Supremacist movement within the United States has developed the capacity to articulate a narrative within the boundaries of the First Amendment, concurrent with facilitating the ideological incentives and non-physical group dynamics necessary for the facilitation of lone wolf operatives in defense of the movement’s Fourteen Words mantra (“We must secure the existence of white people and a future for white children”).The chapter will demonstrate the role of big data analytics in presenting both quantitative data from, and sentiment analysis of, social media communications of the racially motivated far right within the context of the United States. With data sets anchored on key salient events – commencing with the verdict in the case of George Zimmerman and the shooting death of an unarmed black man in Florida under the stand your ground legal provisions to the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement following the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri – the data will demonstrate a growing escalation in reactivity – both frequency and volatility – of individuals who present far and extreme right attitudes. Supporting qualitative analysis of the representation of self-identity of high influencers within these data sets will lend depth to the discussion of how big data social media analytics can facilitate the application of social identity theory to our understanding of individuals involved in the advocation and perpetration of violent responses to racially based events and social movements. The chapter will provide a new approach to the integration of social media in developing a deeper understanding of individuals affiliated with far right ideologies, beyond traditional network analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearching the Far Right
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Method & Practice
EditorsStephen D. Ashe, Joel Busher, Graham Macklin, Aaron Winter
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic) 9781315304670
ISBN (Print)9781138219335
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Fascism and the Far Right


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