Welcome to VOX-Pol’s Online Library, a research and teaching resource, which collects in one place a large volume of publications related to various aspects of violent online political extremism.

Our searchable database contains material in a variety of different formats including downloadable PDFs, videos, and audio files comprising e-books, book chapters, journal articles, research reports, policy documents and reports, and theses.

All open access material collected in the Library is easy to download. Where the publications are only accessible through subscription, the Library will take you to the publisher’s page from where you can access the material.

We will continue to add more material as it becomes available with the aim of making it the most comprehensive online Library in this field.

If you have any material you think belongs in the Library—whether your own or another authors—please contact us at and we will consider adding it to the Library. It is also our aim to make the Library a truly inclusive multilingual facility and we thus welcome contributions in all languages.


Full Listing

Assessing Perceived Credibility Of Websites In A Terrorism Context
2009 Spinks, B.T. PhD Thesis
The purpose of the study was to contribute to the overall understanding of terrorist organizations' use of the Internet and to increase researchers' knowledge of Web site effectiveness. The methodological approach was the evaluation of the perceived credibility of Web sites based on existing criteria derived from information users. The Web sites of four terrorist organizations were assessed: two secular nationalist groups, the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers); and two religious nationalist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah. The findings of this analysis showed differences in perceived credibility factors among terrorist organizations' Web sites and positive levels of perceived credibility for the Web sites. These findings indicate the potential for positive impressions of the organizations' Web sites by information users, which would help empower the organizations with the capacity to reach their objectives. By using Web sites, these groups can effectively increase their support base through disseminating information, improving recruiting, and attracting monetary contributions, and can establish themselves as legitimate components of society.
Fighting Words: The Persuasive Effect Of Online Extremist Narratives On The Radicalization Process
2012 Braddock, K.H. PhD Thesis
What causes an individual to take up violence against civilians for the sake of a political, religious, or social goal? Of course, there are many possible answers to this question. But, one view suggests that narratives may play an especially important role in changing the beliefs, attitudes, and intentions that are precursors to terrorism. There are at least three important implications of this position. First, it is necessary to determine what is meant by terrorism and related terms. Establishing the conceptual boundaries of these terms is a prerequisite to understanding the relationships among them and with narrative communication. Second, it must be established empirically that narrative has the persuasive potency that has been attributed to it. Although narrative has been compared to other forms of evidence, the impact of narrative communication (vs. none) on beliefs, attitudes, intentions, or behavior, has not been determined. Finally, it is important to directly assess the content of narratives that are intended to radicalize. A close examination of the content within terrorist narratives is needed to reveal the targets of belief and attitude change. By determining the persuasive efficacy of narratives and exploring the radicalizing potential of a specific set of extremist narratives, this project advances our knowledge of narrative persuasion processes and helps address the problem of terrorism by approaching it from a communication-based perspective. Chapters 1 and 2 are dedicated to the explication of key terms. Chapter 1 explores the notions of terrorism and extremism, two contested concepts within the literature. Terrorism is defined as the use of violence or threat of violence against civilians to achieve ideological goals. Extremism is defined as a psychological state in which an individual rigidly adheres to an ideology that is characterized by behaviors that marginalize other-minded individuals through a variety of means, up and including the use of physical violence. A model is proposed that suggests that extremism is a risk factor for engaging in terrorism. As Chapter 1 explored the psychological origins of terrorism, Chapter 2 investigates the psychological origins of extremism. This chapter argues that extremism results from a process referred to as radicalization. Radicalization is defined as an incremental social and psychological process prompted by and inextricably bound in communication, whereby an individual develops increased commitment to an extremist ideology resulting in the full or partial assimilation of beliefs and attitudes consistent with that ideology. Thus, it is proposed that those who undergo radicalization are at risk for extremism, and in turn, at risk for engaging in terrorism. After demonstrating radicalization to be a contributing factor for engaging in terrorism in Chapter 2, Chapter 3 illustrates the efficacy of one source with which radicalization can be promoted, narratives. In Chapter 3, meta-analytic techniques are employed to demonstrate that narrative communication positively affects beliefs (N = 4,510; r = .20), attitudes (N = 5,861; r = .21), and behavioral intentions (N = 4,218; r = .19), suggesting that extremist narratives have the potential to contribute to fundamental changes in beliefs, attitudes, and intentions in the direction of those promoted by a terrorist group. Given these results, a close examination of a terrorist group’s narratives would illustrate the beliefs, attitudes, and intentions that might be affected by exposure to those narratives. Thus, Chapter 4 features a theme analysis of the narratives of a terrorist organization, The Animal Liberation Front (ALF). This analysis reveals 10 distinct content themes that are geared towards radicalization. Taken together, the findings of Chapter 3’s meta-analysis and Chapter 4’s theme analysis show how the ALF’s narratives work to promote extremism. Chapter 5 summarizes the findings from the previous chapters and discusses the implications of them. Specifically, this chapter briefly details the ways in which this dissertation may inform future research on narrative communication and strategies to mitigate the impact of extremist narratives on the radicalization process.
Global Village, Global Marketplace, Global War On Terror: Metaphorical Reinscription And Global Internet Governance
2009 Shah, N. PhD Thesis
My thesis examines how metaphors of globalization shape the global governance of the Internet. I consider how, in a short span of time, discussions of the Internet’s globalizing potential have gone from the optimism of the global village to the penchant of the global marketplace to the anxiety of the global war on terror. Building upon Rorty’s theory of metaphors and Foucault’s notion of productive power, I investigate how the shifts in these prevailing metaphors have produced and legitimated different frameworks of global governance. In considering how these patterns of governance have been shaped in the context of a familiar example of globalization, I demonstrate that globalization has an important discursive dimension that works as a constitutive force – not only in Internet governance but in global governance more generally. By illuminating globalization’s discursive dimensions, this thesis makes an original theoretical contribution to the study of globalization and global governance. It demonstrates that globalization is more than a set of empirical flows: equally important, globalization exists as a set of discourses that reconstitute political legitimacy in more ‘global’ terms. This recasts the conventional understanding of global governance: rather than a response to the challenges posed by the empirical transcendence of territorial borders or the visible proliferation of non-state actors, the aims, institutions, and policies of global governance are shaped and enabled by discourses of globalization and evolve as these discourses change. In short, this thesis provides further insight into globalization’s transformations of state-based political order. It links these transformations to the discursive processes by which systems of global governance are produced and legitimated as sites of power and authority.
Pulling Back The Curtain: An Examination Of The English Defence League And Their Use Of Facebook
2015 Reynolds, T. PhD Thesis
As social media becomes an integral part of our daily lives, and groups seek to utilize this medium to facilitate activism, understanding the nature of these communications and the impact of the content on the individual user becomes a valid area of interest. When one then considers that extremist and terrorist groups have found social media to be an inexpensive and effective means for communication, radicalization, recruitment and member mobilization, the need for this understanding becomes critical. This research seeks to provide just such an understanding in its examination of Far-Right English Defence League and their use of Facebook during a period of increased activism and online growth. Important elements of this work include an understanding of the legal and ethical issues surrounding the collection of online content, particularly in extremist environments; the role of traditional media in their coverage of the group and whether the comments of the members reflect the group’s mission statement of the characterization of traditional media; the ability to enhance data segregation and analysis through the development and use of specialized software; and most importantly the findings from the data analysis. Contained within these findings is an understanding of the intricacies of online participation in extremist social media. These include insights into overall traffic generation, the use of links within communications and their impact on the member traffic, and how the group narrative put forth by the administrator is reflected in the dialogue of the users. The most important finding was an understanding of individual user participation within the group and how, even with such an inexpensive and pervasive media outlet, activist groups still struggle to overcome the problem of participation. That this knowledge can be applied in a meaningful way in counter extremist and counterterrorism efforts was an interesting and satisfying development.
Detection And Analysis Of Online Extremist Communities
2017 Benigni, M.C. PhD Thesis
Online social networks have become a powerful venue for political activism. In many cases large, insular online communities form that have been shown to be powerful diffusion mechanisms of both misinformation and propaganda. In some cases, these groups users advocate actions or policies that could be construed as extreme along nearly any distribution of opinion and are thus called Online Extremist Communities (OECs). Although these communities appear increasingly common, little is known about how these groups form or the methods used to influence them. The work in this thesis provides researchers a methodological framework to study these groups by answering three critical research questions:
• How can we detect large dynamic online activist or extremist communities?
• What automated tools are used to build, isolate, and influence these communities?
• What methods can be used to gain novel insight into large online activist or extremist communities?
This group members social ties can be inferred based on the various affordances offered by OSNs for group curation. By developing heterogeneous, annotated graph representations of user behavior I can efficiently extract online activist discussion cores using an ensemble of unsupervised machine learning methods. I call this technique Ensemble Agreement Clustering. Through manual inspection, these discussion cores can then often be used as training data to detect the larger community. I present a novel supervised learning algorithm called Multiplex Vertex Classification for network bipartition on heterogeneous, annotated graphs. This methodological pipeline has also proven useful for social botnet detection, and a study of large, complex social botnets used for propaganda dissemination is provided as well. Throughout this thesis, I provide Twitter case studies including communities focused on the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the ongoing Syrian Revolution, the Euromaidan Movement in Ukraine, as well as the alt-Right.
Automatically Detecting The Resonance Of Terrorist Movement Frames On The Web
2017 Etudo, U. PhD Thesis
The ever-increasing use of the internet by terrorist groups as a platform for the dissemination of radical, violent ideologies is well documented. The internet has, in this way, become a breeding ground for potential lone-wolf terrorists; that is, individuals who commit acts of terror inspired by the ideological rhetoric emitted by terrorist organizations. These individuals are characterized by their lack of formal affiliation with terror organizations, making them difficult to intercept with traditional intelligence techniques. The radicalization of individuals on the internet poses a considerable threat to law enforcement and national security officials. This new medium of radicalization, however, also presents new opportunities for the interdiction of lone-wolf terrorism. This dissertation is an account of the development and evaluation of an information technology (IT) framework for detecting potentially radicalized individuals on social media sites and Web fora. Unifying Collective Action Framing Theory (CAFT) and a radicalization model of lone-wolf terrorism, this dissertation analyzes a corpus of propaganda documents produced by several, radically different, terror organizations. This analysis provides the building blocks to define a knowledge model of terrorist ideological framing that is implemented as a Semantic Web Ontology. Using several techniques for ontology guided information extraction, the resultant ontology can be accurately processed from textual data sources. This dissertation subsequently defines several techniques that leverage the populated ontological representation for automatically identifying individuals who are potentially radicalized to one or more terrorist ideologies based on their postings on social media and other Web fora. The dissertation also discusses how the ontology can be queried using intuitive structured query languages to infer triggering events in the news. The prototype system is evaluated in the context of classification and is shown to provide state of the art results. The main outputs of this research are (1) an ontological model of terrorist ideologies (2) an information extraction framework capable of identifying and extracting terrorist ideologies from text, (3) a classification methodology for classifying Web content as resonating the ideology of one or more terrorist groups and (4) a methodology for rapidly identifying news content of relevance to one or more terrorist groups.
Understanding The Collective Identity Of The Radical Right Online: A Mixed-Methods Approach
2017 Scrivens, R.M. PhD Thesis
Criminologists have generally agreed that the Internet is not only a tool or resource for right-wing extremists to disseminate ideas and products, but also a site of important identity work, accomplished interactively through the exchange of radical ideas. Online discussion forums, amongst other interactive corners of the Web, have become an essential conduit for the radical right to air their grievances and bond around their “common enemy.” Yet overlooked in this discussion has been a macro-level understanding of the radical discussions that contribute to the broader collective identity of the extreme right online, as well as what constitutes “radical posting behavior” within this context. Drawing from criminal career measures to facilitate this type of analysis, data was extracted from a sub-forum of the most notorious white supremacy forum online, Stormfront, which included 141,763 posts made by 7,014 authors over approximately 15 years. In study one of this dissertation, Sentiment-based Identification of Radical Authors (SIRA), a sentiment analysis-based algorithm that draws from traditional criminal career measures to evaluate authors’ opinions, was used to identify and, by extension, assess forum authors’ radical posting behaviors using a mixed-methods approach. Study two extended on study one by using SIRA to quantify authors’ group-level sentiment about their common enemies: Jews, Blacks, and LGBTQs. Study three further extended on studies one and two by analyzing authors’ radical posting trajectories with semi-parametric group-based modeling. Results highlighted the applicability of criminal career measures to study radical discussions online. Not only did this mixed-methods approach provide theoretical insight into what constitutes radical posting behavior in a white supremacy forum, but it also shed light on the communication patterns that contribute to the broader collective identity of the extreme right online.
Cyberterrorism: A Postmodern View Of Networks Of Terror And How Computer Security Experts And Law Enforcement Officials Fight Them
2006 Matusitz, J.A. PhD Thesis
The purpose of this study is to investigate how cyberterrorists create networks in order to engage in malicious activities against the Internet and computers. The purpose of the study is also to understand how computer security labs (i.e., in universities) and various agencies (that is, law enforcement agencies such as police departments and the FBI) create joint networks in their fight against cyberterrorists. This idea of analyzing the social networks of two opposing sides rests on the premise that it takes networks to fight networks. The ultimate goal is to show that, because of the postmodern nature of the Internet, the fight between networks of cyberterrorists and networks of computer security experts (and law enforcement officials) is a postmodern fight. Two theories are used in this study: social network theory and game theory. This study employed qualitative methodology and data were collected via in-depth conversational (face-to-face) interviewing. Twenty-seven computer security experts and law enforcement officials were interviewed. Overall, this study found that cyberterrorists tend not to work alone. Rather, they team up with others through social networks. It was also found that it takes networks to fight networks. As such, it is necessary for experts and officials to combine efforts, through networking, in order to combat, let alone understand, cyberterrorist networks. Of equal relevance is the fact that law enforcement agents and computer security experts do not always engage in battle with cyberterrorists. They sometimes try to interact with them in order to obtain more information about their networks (and vice versa). Finally, four themes were identified from the participants' accounts: (1) postmodern state of chaos, (2) social engineering, (3) know thy enemy, and (4) the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Consuming the Jihad: An Enquiry into the Subculture of Internet Jihadism
2011 Ramsay, G. PhD Thesis
Recent years have seen a great deal of interest in phenomena such as Al Qaida ‘terrorism’, Islamic ‘radicalism’ or, increasingly, ‘jihadism’ - on the Internet. However, as I argue in this thesis, much work in these areas has been problematic for a number of reasons. Much literature has been narrowly focused on the security issues which it pre-judges the content to raise, and has therefore taken some aspects too literally while ignoring others. Conversely, where authors have addressed ‘jihadi’ content or ‘electronic jihad’ as a phenomenon unto itself, they have had difficulty making sense of it within religious studies or political communication frameworks. In this dissertation, I propose an alternative approach. Deliberately eschewing frameworks based on pre-existing conceptions of religion or politics, I draw, instead, on the academic literature on fandom and subcultural media consumption. Using this conceptual lens, I attempt to analyse jihadism on the Internet (which I define in terms of online consumption of, and identification with self-described ‘jihadi’ content) as a subcultural phenomenon on its own terms. I argue that, without necessarily denying the role that beliefs and ideals expressed in ‘jihadi’ content may sometimes have in sustaining the physical violence of the ‘global jihad’, the cultural practices which constitute Internet jihadism have a tactical logic of their own which may not always coincide with the ‘strategic’ interests of ‘global jihad’. By better understanding what ‘ordinary’ jihadis, most of whom will never participate in violence, get out of their practices, and how they negotiate the apparent contradictions of their situation, I suggest that we may be better placed to understand not only why some jihadis ‘fail’ to negotiate these contradictions, but also, perhaps, to raise questions about how popular media consumption works more generally.
Hyper-connectivity: Intricacies Of National And International Cyber Securities
2017 Dawson, M. PhD Thesis
This thesis examined the three core themes: the role of education in cyber security, the role of technology in cyber security, and the role of policy in cyber security, the areas in which the papers are published. The associated works are published in referred journals, peer reviewed book chapters, and conference proceedings. Research can be found in the following outlets: 1. Security Solutions for Hyperconnectivity and the Internet of Things; 2. Developing Next-Generation Countermeasures for Homeland Security Threat Prevention; 3. New Threats and Countermeasures in Digital Crime and Cyber Terrorism; 4. Internatoinal Journal of Business Continuity and Risk Management; 4. Handbook of Research on 3-D Virtual Environments and Hypermedia for Ubiquitous Learning; 6. Information Security in Diverse Computing Environments; 7. Technology, Innovation, and Enterprise Transformation; 8. Journal of Information Systems Technology and Planning; 9. Encylopedia of Information Science and Technology. The shortcomings and gaps in cyber security research is the research focus on hyperconnectivity of people and technology to include the policies that provide the standards for security hardened systems. Prior research on cyber and homeland security reviewed the three core themes separately rather than jointly. This study examined the research gaps within cyber security as it relates to core t hemes in an effort to develop stronger policies, education programs, and hardened technologies for cyber security use. This work illustrates how cyber security can be broken into these three core areas and used together to address issues such as developing training environments for teaching real cyber security events. It will further show the correlations between technologies and policies for system Certification & Accreditation (C & A). Finally, it will offer insights on  how cybersecurity can be used to maintain security for international and national security. The overall results of the study provide guidance on how to create an ubiquitous learning (U-Learning) environment to teach cyber security concepts, craft policies that affect computing, and examines the effects on national and international security. The overall research has been improving the role of cyber security in education, technology, and policy.
The Hunt For The Paper Tiger: The Social Construction Of Cyberterrorism
2006 Thatcher, S. E. H. PhD Thesis
For two decades, there has been a high-profile debate on the issue of cyberterrorism. Politicians, law enforcement agents, the information security industry, other experts and the press have all made claims about the threats to and vulnerabilities in our society, who is responsible and what should be done. This is a UK study in the field of Information Systems based on interpretative philosophical assumptions. The framework for the study is provided by the concept of moral panic, propounded by Cohen (2002) and elaborated by Goode and Ben-Yehuda (1994) and Critcher (2003). Moral panic is used widely in the reference discipline of Sociology as a tool for investigating the social construction of social problems in cases where there is heightened public concern and intense media interest, closely followed by changes in legislation and social control mechanisms. This study employs moral panic as an heuristic device to assist in the investigation of the social mechanisms at work in the social construction of cyberterrorism The corpus of data for analysis comprised articles from the UK national press relevant to cyberterrorism. A grounded theory approach was used to analyse these articles in order to identify images, orientations, stereotypes and symbolisation and to examine
representational trends over time. Reflexivity in such a task is of the utmost importance, and the analytic process leading to an explanation of the social processes at work was deliberately divorced from the moral panic framework in order to guarantee rigour in the findings. The findings set out an explanation of how the concept of cyberterrorism has been constructed over two decades and compares this explanation with a framework provided by a model of moral panic. These findings are then linked to wider issues about national security, civil liberties and state control of information and communication technologies.
Cybercrimes against the Electricity Infrastructure: Exploring Hacker and Industry Perceptions
2012 Rege, A. PhD Thesis
The US electricity infrastructure uses Industrial Control Systems (ICS) to oversee its operations. These systems are connected online for better efficiency, making them susceptible to cyberattacks. Current research has extensively addressed ICS vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals. Vulnerabilities, however, are only one of the many factors influencing offender decision-making in cyberattacks. Furthermore, numerous conceptions of threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences exist, which further complicate ICS security assessments. This exploratory study therefore has two main goals. First, it seeks to compare industry and hacker perceptions on electricity ICS threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences. Second, it seeks to identify a broader set of factors that influence offender decision-making in ICS cyberattacks.
Cyber-security In The European Region: Anticipatory Governance And Practices
2015 Munk, T. H. PhD Thesis
This thesis explores the nature of cyber security at the beginning of the 21st century. In the current security paradigm, security strategies based on anticipatory governance have become essential in the management of the constantly changing cyber security environment. Thus, this thesis aims to understand security strategies and governance introduced in the European region. The increased dependency on cyber space is visible in all public private sectors and governmental operations, as well as communications between groups and individuals. As a result, cyber attacks on public and private entities are increasing. This requires a security framework that is flexible and establishes different types of security cooperation to manage the widespread cyber risks. This is essential to the development of security strategies, governance forms, practices, and guidelines for enhancing resilience and preparedness towards cyber risks. Therefore, I am examining cyber security through the lenses of nodal governance and governmentality, which enables me to understand European cyber security strategies and governance forms developed by the Council of Europe, the European Union, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. To analyse existing strategies and governance forms, I have used two critical security schools, the Copenhagen School and the Paris School, which cover different aspects of the security agenda. The thesis develops a substantive analytical framework through two case studies, namely cyber security and cyber terrorism. The findings in this thesis identifies problem areas, such as the complexity of the nodal system, the legislative lacuna, reliance on different governance forms, transparency and accountability, and types of anticipatory governance and regulatory practices.
Three Essays on International Cyber Threats: Target Nation Characteristics, International Rivalry, and Asymmetric Information Exchange
2014 Mauslein, J. A. PhD Thesis
As the Internet is progressively integrated into industrial and defense-related networks around the globe, it is becoming increasing important to understand how state and sub-state groups can use Internet vulnerabilities as a conduit of attack. The current social science literature on cyber threats is largely dominated by descriptive, U.S.-centric research. While this scholarship is important, the findings are not generalizable and fail to address the global aspects of network vulnerabilities. As a result, this dissertation employs a unique dataset of cyber threats from around the world, spanning from 1990 to 2011. This dataset allows for three diverse empirical studies to be conducted. The first study investigates the political, social, and economic characteristics that increase the likelihood of a state being targeted for cyber threats. The results show that different state characteristics are likely to influence the forms of digital attack targeting. For example, states that experience increases in GDP per capita and military size are more likely to be targeted for cyber attacks. Inversely, states that experience increases in GDP per capita and those that are more democratic are less likely to be targeted for cyber terrorism. The second study investigates the role that international rivalries play in cyber threat targeting. The results suggest that states in rivalries may have more reason to strengthen their digital security, and rival actors may be cautious about employing serious, threatening forms of cyber activity against foes because of concerns about escalation. The final study, based upon the crisis bargaining theory, seeks to determine if cyber threat targeting decreases private information asymmetry and therefore decreases conflict participation. Empirical results show that the loss of digital information via cyber means may thus illicit a low intensity threat or militarized action by a target state, but it also simultaneously increases the likelihood that a bargain may be researched, preventing full scale war by reducing the amount of private information held between parties.
Global Response to Cyberterrorism and Cybercrime: A Matrix for International Coperation and Vulnerability Assessment
2005 Ozeren, S. PhD Thesis
Cyberterrorism and cybercrime present new challenges for law enforcement and policy makers. Due to its transnational nature, a real and sound response to such a threat requires international cooperation involving participation of all concerned parties in the international community. However, vulnerability emerges from increased reliance on technology, lack of legal measures, and lack of cooperation at the national and international level represents real obstacle toward effective response to these threats. In sum, lack of global consensus in terms of responding to cyberterrorism and cybercrime is the general problem. Terrorists and cyber criminals will exploit vulnerabilities, including technical, legal, political, and cultural. Such a broad range of vulnerabilities can be dealt with by comprehensive cooperation which requires efforts both at the national and international level. "Vulnerability-Comprehensive Cooperation-Freedom Scale" or "Ozeren Scale" identified variables that constructed the scale based on the expert opinions. Also, the study presented typology of cyberterrorism, which involves three general classifications of cyberterrorism; Disruptive and destructive information attacks, Facilitation of technology to support the ideology, and Communication, Fund raising, Recruitment, Propaganda (C-F-R-P). Such a typology is expected to help those who are in a position of decision-making and investigating activities as well as academicians in the area of terrorism. The matrix for international cooperation and vulnerability assessment is expected to be used as a model for global response to cyberterrorism and cybercrime.
A Critical Reflection On the Construction of the Cyberterrorist Threat in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
2018 Mott, G. PhD Thesis
Cyberterrorism has not occurred. Furthermore, the definitional parameters of cyberterrorism have not been conclusively defined by either policymakers or academia. However, in 2010 the threat posed by the terrorist application of cyber weaponry to target British critical national infrastructure became a ‘Tier One’ threat to the UK. This thesis is the first comprehensive mapping and analysis of the official British construction of the threat of cyberterrorism between 12th May 2010 and 24th June 2016. By using interpretive discourse analysis, this thesis identifies ‘strands’ from a comprehensive corpus of policy documents, statements and speeches from Ministers, MPs and Peers. This thesis examines how the threat of cyberterrorism was constructed in the UK, and what this securitisation has made possible. In addition, this thesis makes novel contributions to the Copenhagen School’s ‘securitisation theory’ framework. Accordingly: this thesis outlines the framework for a ‘tiered’, rather than monolithic audience; refines the ‘temporal’ and ‘spatial’ conditioning of a securitisation with reference to the unique characteristics of cyberterrorism; and lastly, details the way in which popular fiction can be ascribed agency in securitising moves to ‘fill in’ a lack of case studies of threat with gripping vicarious fictional narratives. It is identified that the 2010 British Coalition Government’s classification of cyberterrorism as a ‘Tier One’ threat created a central strand upon which a discursive securitisation was established. Despite the absence of a ‘cyberterrorist’ incident across the period under scrutiny, the securitisation did not recede. The threat posed by cyberterrorism was articulated partially within a ‘New Terrorism’ frame, and it was deemed by Ministers, MPs and Lords to be a threat that was likely to escalate in both severity and possibility over time. A notable finding is the positioning of the securitisation against a particular ‘cyberterrorist’ identity epitomised by social actors using cyberspace, rather than the tangible environments of cyberspace.
Tweeting Islamophobia: Islamophobic Hate Speech Amongst Followers Of UK Political Parties On Twitter
2019 Vidgen, B. PhD Thesis
The aim of this thesis is to enhance our understanding of the nature and dynamics of Islamophobic hate speech amongst followers of UK political parties on Twitter. I study four parties from across the political spectrum: the BNP, UKIP, the Conservatives and Labour. I make three main contributions. First, I define Islamophobia in terms of negativity and generality, thus making a robust, theoretically-informed contribution to the study of a deeply contested concept. This argument informs the second contribution,
which is methodological: I create a multi-class supervised machine learning classifier for Islamophobic hate speech. This distinguishes between weak and strong varieties and can be applied robustly and at scale. My third contribution is theoretical. Drawing together my substantive findings, I argue that Islamophobic tweeting amongst followers of UK parties can be characterised as a wind system which contains Islamophobic hurricanes. This analogy captures the complex, heterogeneous dynamics underpinning Islamophobia on Twitter, and highlights its devastating effects. I also show that Islamist terrorist attacks drive Islamophobia, and that this affects followers of all four parties studied here. I use this finding to extend the theory of cumulative extremism beyond extremist groups to include individuals with mainstream affiliations. These contributions feed into ongoing academic, policymaking and activist discussions about Islamophobic hate speech in both social media and UK politics.
Hard(Wired) For Terror: Unraveling the Mediatized Roots and Routes of Radicalization
2019 Frissen, T. PhD Thesis
(Hard)Wired for Terror is divided into two parts. In the first part, (the ‘Roots’ ) we provide a historical, semantic analysis of the concepts of radicalism, extremism and terrorism, and how they are interconnected. Furthermore, a comprehensive overview is presented of the state of the art in which the current radicalization and terrorism research is rooted. We challenge insights from individual-psychological and collective-sociological research and bind them together on a social-communicative dimension. By means of a theoretical blend of Social Movement Theory, Mediatization, and Socio-Epidemiology, we propose a new cyclic model of mediatized terrorism and radicalization. In the second part (the ‘Routes’ ), we present the results of five original empirical studies. Both message-centered and audience-centered analyses were conducted. On the basis of a detailed content analysis, we uncover the moral psychological and theological underpinnings of the ISIS’s worldview. Additionally, survey data of Belgian young adults reveal the ‘effects’ of different forms of Salafi-Jihadist communication artefacts (from beheading videos to terrorist attacks). Ultimately, the dissertation suggests a few policy recommendations with the aim to prevent radicalization and terrorism.
The Kids Are Alt-Right: The Intellectual Origins of the Alt-Right
2019 Jones, A.W. PhD Thesis
The electoral success and increased media presence of the Far-Right ideology known as the Alternative Right has catapulted the once marginal fringe movement into popular political discourse. The term Alternative Right is used in contrast to Alt-Right, which is a specific subsection of the broader Alt-Right who are associated with Richard Spencer. This dissertation examines the theories that make up the Alternative Right by addressing the question: How have the divergent political theory traditions of the Alternative Right coalesced into a new reactionary political ideology?The first half of the dissertation defines the Alternative Right and the historical context for the movement. The dissertation defines the Alternative Right by its axioms of the right to difference, the primacy of cultural metapolitics and hierarchical individualism. The second half examines the four major intellectual influences of the Alternative Right: The Techno-libertarians know as the Grey Tribe, NeoReactionary Thought, the European New Right and the American White Nationalists. The dissertation concludes that the divergent political theory of the Alternative Right is unified based on its shared reactionary values, its break from American liberal-conservativism and a consistent focus on the literature of radicalization and critique. The goal of the Alternative Right is a rebirth of racial/gendered consciousness and a new American/European renaissance.
Entitlement, Victimhood, and Hate: A Digital Ethnography of the Canadian Right-Wing Social Media Landscape
2022 Mack, A.C. PhD Thesis
This dissertation is, at its core, an interrogation of white masculinity in Canada’s right-wing spaces. While my interlocutors spent a great deal of time discussing others, namely immigrants, globalist elites, and feminists, through their discourse, they revealed a lot more about themselves and their perceived victimhood (Berbrier, 2000). This victimhood is derived from what Hage (2000) refers to as the white nation fantasy, wherein white people believe they have the right to rule, control, and dominate in their countries. They are entitled to this by virtue of their whiteness and its perceived superiority, and thus feel justified in their harmful behaviour (Essed & Muhr, 2018). Yet, as I show throughout each chapter, that right is challenged time and time again by immigration, feminism, and racial justice, which triggers a sense of aggrieved entitlement (Manne, 2019) and backlash (Boyd, 2004; Braithwaite, 2004). Moreover, I demonstrate that this is not only a white fantasy, but rather a white male fantasy. While the white nation fantasy relies on white supremacy, the white male nation fantasy interweaves notions of male supremacism wherein not only are people of colour inferior, so too are women – including white ones who do not fall in line. I draw on bell hook’s conception of “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” to show how their discourse, while explicitly racist and nativist (Schrag, 2010), upholds and is in turn upheld by both capitalism and patriarchy. Thus, while chapters on hockey, promiscuous women, and a “Sad Keanu” meme may seem disparate and disjointed, they all connect back to these notions of supremacism, entitlement, and ultimately victimhood.