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University of Gothenburg

Online social media as discursive opportunity structure for attacks against refugee housing facilities

The purpose of this project is to study the interplay between internet forum discussions with racist and anti-refugee content and attacks directed at refugee housing facilities. First, the project will explore how discourses on immigrants and refugees are constructed and developed in extreme-right online forums, and how such discourses change over time and diffuse to a broader online public. This will have implications for the literature on diffusion of ideas and “innovations”.

The analysis will combine qualitative text analysis with social network analysis and powerful data mining techniques such as topic modeling. Second, the project will study how online public discourses shape the targets and the temporal and spatial patterns of attacks against refugee housing facilities. The study will contribute new knowledge about the impact of online interaction on real-world political action, in terms of developing contextual explanations for racist violence which are better suited for contemporary conditions. The main theoretical contribution here is to develop the notion of discursive
opportunities with respect to the context provided by social media. Here we will primarily use a Qualitative Comparative Analysis on a sample of Swedish municipalities to identify the effects of various local contextual conditions and media discourse on the prevalence of attacks against refugee housing facilities.




Mattias Wahlström (project leader)
Anton Törnberg
Petter Törnberg
Hans Ekbrand