TAKING THE REDPILL: TALKING ABOUT EXTREMISM
Keywords:radicalization, far-right, disinformation, white supremacy, conspiracy
AbstractThere is great public concern about far-right radicalization online, the process by which individuals are exposed to internet content and then adopt extremist or hateful ideas. However, this concept has two major problems. First, the idea of “radicalization” and “extremism” assumes that to study the radical is to study the other, yet white supremacy and racism are hardly new phenomenon in America. Second, while the internet clearly contributes to spreading fringe and far-right beliefs, "online radicalization" furthers simplistic narratives of media effects that ignore political, economic, and emotional complexities. Thus, to understand the adoption of fringe and far-right beliefs outside the problematic frame of “radicalization”, this paper takes up narratives of “redpilling,” slang for coming to believe something counterfactual to mainstream consensus. Drawing from qualitative and ethnographic research on far-right online subcultures and critical terrorism studies, we ask how members of far-right and fringe communiteis understand and perform their own community enrollment. We conduct critical discourse theory and qualitative data analysis on a broad corpus of in situ discussions of redpilling drawn from internet spaces devoted to far-right and fringe discussions, including 12 different subreddits, Gab.ai, Discord, Parler, Telegram, and 4chan. Our preliminary findings suggest that “online radicalization” is an ongoing process in which people come to believe extremist viewpoints by consuming far-right content, participating in far-right internet spaces, viewing interpersonal interactions through an ideological lens, and interacting with friends and family with similar views.
How to Cite
Marwick, A. E., & Furl, K. (2021). TAKING THE REDPILL: TALKING ABOUT EXTREMISM. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2021. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2021i0.12207