Extreme parallels: a corpus-driven analysis of ISIS and far-right discourse

In this study, we examine key psychological dimensions in the manifestos authored by the perpetrators of the Christchurch and Utøya massacres, the right-wing extremists Brenton Tarrant and Anders Breivik, and the ISIS propaganda magazine Rumiyah. All texts were authored and disseminated virtually with the purpose of attracting or consolidating support, and justifying violent, discriminatory actions. While right-wing supremacist and extremist Islamist discourses are ostensibly ideologically opposed, previous research has posited the existence of ideational and emotive commonalities. We approach this from a corpus-linguistic perspective, and employ the software LIWC2015 and Wmatrix to explore the dominant psychological dimensions, semantic categories and keywords in these texts. We identify elements that contribute to the construction of a narrative of hate, peril and urgency, and discuss differences in the imagery used to construct these meanings and to appeal to different audiences. Whilst our analysis supports the existence of commonalities in ideological content and discursive strategies, our results identify differences in the target of hate in right-wing supremacist discourse and we differentiate between primarily Islamophobic and racist motives. Finally, we also discuss the limitations inherent in employing these software tools to analyse discourse in the Web 2.0 era.

Tags: corpus linguistics, Extremist discourse, ISIS, psychological dimensions, right-wing supremacy