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.