Sanitising Fascism: Online Video Activism of the Swedish Far Right

TitleSanitising Fascism: Online Video Activism of the Swedish Far Right
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Ekman, M.
Affiliation (1st Author)Department of Media Studies Journalism, Media and Communication, Stockholm University, Sweden
Section or WGCommunity Communication Section
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodeCoCW3a
Slot Code (Keyword)CoCW3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
Session TitleMedia Activism, Social Movements and Communicative Resistance
Submission ID6019

Keywords: extreme right, video activism, YouTube, visual politics   The extreme right’s early adaptation of digital communication technology has gained plenty of scholarly attention. However, most of the research have been focused on the political discourses, the specific rhetoric’s (such as hate-speech), community building, and the networking of extreme right organisations in relation to online communication and “new media”. In recent years a emerging body of work on the specific communicative forms used in facilitating and enabling both collective and connective action repertoires have contributed to greater understanding of how social media and digital communication relates to social mobilisation in general.   Swedish extreme right-wing groups have a long history of alternative media production and today video making and online distribution and circulation of visual clips have become a key strategy in their political communication. Organisations operating within a well developed online infrastructure (including communities, news media outlets and blogs) are also well established actors on commercial platforms such as YouTube and Twitter.  This paper explores the video activism deployed by extreme far-right groups in Sweden. It analyses the ideological and aesthetical aspects of “extreme” visual politics, and the distribution strategies facilitated by YouTube (the circulation of online clips by embedding, hyper linking, etc.)   The study is based on an analysis of more than 200 clips produced and disseminated by four different organizations pertaining to the Swedish extreme right-wing milieu. It explores the ideological and aesthetic elements of the clips, focusing on the intersection between political messages and visual propaganda. Furthermore it also examines how the circulation of clips come to fore in online platforms deployed by far right groups.   The study shows that film clip have, at least, three major functions for the extreme right groups. First, by taking part in a mainstream commercial online platform, they confirm the existence of extreme right-wing groups to a potentially greater audience. Second, the content of the clips contributes to a normalization of the socio-political dimensions of extreme right-wing groups. By focusing on practices, discourses and aesthetics that does not necessarily connects to extreme politics, they contribute to a sanitation of neo-fascist politics and practices  Third, YouTube constitutes a political arena in itself, and video production are adjusted and shaped to the specific media logic and communication structures of YouTube. Therefore video activism on YouTube could also be understood as a political practice in its own.

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