Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Far-Right Extremism in Online Spaces

Publication Date

Spring 3-30-2022


Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of


Sociology, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Erin Pryor

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Whether through an online phenomenon, like the prominence of Qanon, or a real world event, like the attempted January 6th insurrection, the topic of online radicalization has slowly made its way into the cultural zeitgeist in the U.S. However, the interest in studying far-right groups and their ability to disseminate propaganda and establish themselves online has piqued the interest of researchers long before these events have transpired (Caiani and Kroll 2014; Holtz and Wagner 2009; Sakki and Petterson 2015). Specifically, researchers have studied the manner in which far-right groups take advantage of social media algorithms to artificially boost interest in their causes, populist rhetoric to advocate against the rights of minorities, and online cultural knowledge to acceptably frame their messages in mainstream online spaces (DeCook 2018; Deem 2019; Fox and Limeberry 2021; Maly 2019; Tuters and Hagan 2020; Zannettou et al. 2018). To further explore this topic and further our research experience, our current research study’s aim is to employ several social research methods, i.e., literature reviews, surveys, interviews, secondary data analyses, and content analyses, to explore the mechanisms of the spread of far-right extremist sentiment online. Each research method was explained in Dr. Pryor’s Social Research Methods class and employed in a short period of time to learn how to apply it and gauge how appropriate each one was for the topic being explored. The results and learning process gained by each method helped influence which methods were the most suitable for analyzing the topic further. A proposal for research has been created to assess what future research could look like.

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