A Linguistic Analysis of a White Supremacist Web Forum

The following is the abstract for my Ph.D thesis. My advisor for this research was Dr. Paul baker from Lancaster University in the U.K..

Abstract

This thesis describes the analysis of a 300,000 word corpus of texts taken from a white

supremacist web forum, which refer to the subject of homosexuality. The study examined

the language used to construct heterosexual, white masculinities and the representations

of gay men, ethnic minority groups and other out-groups, and how such groups are

interlinked by the in-group. In order to achieve this, the corpus was subjected to three

stages of analysis. Firstly, a corpus-driven approach was taken which was centred on the

study of frequency, keywords, collocation and concordance analyses. This was followed

by a detailed qualitative study of two posts from the forum and the threads in which they

were located. The third stage of the analysis consisted of a corpus-based approach which

combined the corpus linguistic and qualitative analyses. It was found that the in-group

constructed themselves as both victims and guardians, who, in protecting the white race

and family, considered themselves in conflict with gay men and other minority groups.

The analysis of the data demonstrated a convergence of reactionary responses to the

challenges of not only the movements of women, gay men and lesbians, but also of racial

minorities. Furthermore, a lack of homogeneity on fundamental issues was found, which

appeared indicate that due to the forum format of the data, topics were discussed and

negotiated rather than dictated to by group hierarchy as would be the case in a top-down

structured organisation. It was also seen how white supremacist leaders have attempted to

position the movement away from the fringes of society and into the mainstream.

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“I know… I don’t know!” Times of Uncertainty: A Corpus Linguistic study of Seinfeld

I think to get the ball rolling with this I will post the abstract for a recent study I did on Seinfeld, which looked at Post Modernism and Pop Culture:

Abstract

Postmodern society is marked by a blurring of traditional boundaries, which in turn suggests change, uncertainty and risk. The rise in the visibility and status of popular culture and television has facilitated the circulation of images and discourses which convey such a stance. In this study, a corpus driven analysis of a 750,000-word-corpus of the entire transcripts from the nine series of the television sitcom Seinfeld (1989-1998) was undertaken. Seinfeld was an award winning, critical and commercial success, as well as a cultural phenomenon that received numerous awards and top audience ratings throughout the years that it was produced. In this investigation, initially, frequency and keyword analyses provided data which suggested central themes and strategies that were prevalent throughout the series; these findings were further analyzed using concordance, collocation and semantic prosody methodologies. Conclusions from the investigation appear to reflect observations made by the postmodernist Bauman (2007a) who argued that we are living in a world of uncertainty in which security and assurances have vanished. The central themes of Seinfeld were predominately those of meaninglessness, futility and stagnation; the fact that such topics obtained the levels of popularity they did, remains a subject of interest.

Keywords: Seinfeld, Corpus Linguistics, Keyword Analysis