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Auteur: Maria STOPFNER

The Construction of Identity in User Comments of the Far and Extreme Right

Abstract/Résumé: According to the latest reports of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutzbericht 2011, 2012), the internet has become the main hub for neo-fascist ideology. Sheltered by the anonymity of the World Wide Web, members of the far and extreme right can meet up with like-minded comrades. What is more, by exploiting the possibilities of Web 2.0, they can post and discuss their ideas in public introducing new and preferably younger users to their way of thinking through the backdoor of social contacts. Sharing the notion of identity as a dynamic construct within social interaction (de Fina, Shiffrin & Bamberg 2006; Kresic 2006; Bucholtz & Hall 2005; Mead 1968), the present paper will focus on far and extreme right political identity exploring how it is shaped and maintained in public online debates. The analysis combines conversation analytic approaches to identity construction (Schiffrin 2006; Hausendorf 2000) with typical far and extreme right argumentation schemes specified by critical discourse analysis (Wodak et al. 1990; van Dijk 1987; Reisigl & Wodak 2001). The quantitative as well as qualitative analysis of 1047 user comments shows that political affiliation is seldom stated outright. Far and extreme right political identity is moreover conveyed by sharing certain beliefs and values serving as a communicative shibboleth through which the individual can proof “uniformity in thought and action” (Burke & Stets 2009: 118) with the far and extreme right as a community of practice in which “ways of doing things, ways of talking, beliefs, values, power relations – in short, practices – emerge” (Eckert & McConnell-Ginet 1992: 464).