Populist voices in extremist online videos: A content analysis of right-wing and Islamic YouTube videos

Schmitt, Josephine B. ; Winkler, Julia R. ; Lutz, Sarah ; Dietrich, Felix ; Rieger, Diana

Document Type: Conference presentation
Year of publication: 2018
Conference title: 68th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA)
Location of the conference venue: Prague, Czech Republic
Date of the conference: 24.-28.05.2018
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Humanities > Medien- und Kommunikationswisseschaft (Vorderer 2010-)
Subject: 380 Commerce, communications, transportation
Abstract: Populist and extremist actors gain popularity by promoting their ideas online. This extensive advertising strategy has led to an increase in votes for populist parties/politicians and in membership numbers for extremist groups. Although there are speculations in media reports that the simple worldview created by populists contributes to more extreme positions, no study tested whether extremists rely on populist communication in their communiqués. The current study therefore investigated whether populist communication styles are present in extremist propaganda. A quantitative content analysis (N = 51) on extremist YouTube videos (n = 25 right-wing extremist, n = 26 Islamist extremist) was conducted to analyze potential differences between ideologies. The results demonstrate that 30% of videos display all three elements of populism (people centrism, anti-elitism and restoration of sovereignty). However, multilevel analysis revealed only small differences between ideologies regarding the use of populist communication. The discussion will focus on implications of populist communication in extremist videos and potential prevention strategies.

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