Gender in the Far-Right: An Observation of Masculinities in the EDL using Corpus Linguistics


I’m interested in looking at gender in the far-right. I collected at a corpus of texts from the Facebook page of the English Defence League (EDL), a far-right, Islamophobic, street-protest group. I collected threads written by EDL supporters, cleaned them of images etc. and used WordSmith to analyse the data. The reason for looking at gender is that when I compiled frequency data of non-function words, I found the following:

edl frequency


I found it of interest that both man and woman were frequent within the data, and thought it would be worthwhile to study this further.

In this post, I’ll be focusing on man and men.

The most frequent collocates of man or men were as follows:

women (with men) 46, Muslim (with men) 39, Muslim (with man) 22, white (man) 17, woman (with man) 13

women (with men) 

When concordance lines are searched, the phrase men and women can be seen as follows:

concordance men and women

Men and women are described as brave, decent, great, real English and magnificent. It’s interesting that the phrase is used to describe non-Muslims. The data does not provide any examples of men and women used to describe Muslims. As the above concordance lines demonstrate, the in-group is constructed positively.

Muslim (with men/men)

muslim man

Muslim men are constructed as being violent, both towards Muslim women and men from other social groups. They are also constructed as being polygynous, and thus being culturally incompatible with with the accepted norms of British society. Furthermore, marriage to young wives is also focused upon, which is seen as unacceptable to British culture.

White man 

white men

The construction of white man / men  is more ambiguous than discourses found on white supremacist forums. In the concordances there does appear to be an acknowledgement that certain white men commit crimes. However, they are also constructed as being victims and less likely to commit a crime than a non-white male.


It is of interest that the EDL supporters appear to focus on sexual violence when defining and constructed masculinities.

muslim men