Bridging White Supremacist Discourse: An ethnography of the online world of the ‘Alt-Right’
This thesis examines the social world of white supremacy using online ethnography of an Alt-Right forum on 4chan. For four months, I conducted fieldwork on 4chan’s “politically incorrect” (/pol/) message board three to four days a week, observing the interaction of users in real time, compiling ethnographic fieldnotes, and archiving relevant documents and forum threads. This data was systematically analysed and provides the foundation for the case studies at the centre of this thesis: (1) users use of the metaphor of “red pills” to describe their entry to the Alt-Right and adoption of core tenants of movement ideology; (2) the way they translated this ideology for a wider (offline) audience through a campaign to poster the phrase, “It’s Okay to be White” around local neighbourhoods; and (3) the way they constructed collective meaning out of an act of racist violence from a self-identified insider to the community, Stephan Balliet, who killed two people near a synagogue in Halle, Germany, during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.
This ethnographic examination of 4chan not only provides a ground-up view of what is generally regarded as among the darkest corners of the internet, based on the everyday interactions of participants in the community, but contributes to wider academic debates about the contemporary landscape of racial inequality and online white supremacy.