Stormfront is Like a Second Home to Me: On Virtual Community Formation by Right-Wing Extremists

Although the subject of extreme right virtual community formation is often discussed, an online ‘sense of community’ among right-wing extremists has not been systematically analysed. It is argued that to study this phenomenon and to understand its backgrounds and function, the offline and online experiences and actions of those involved need to be taken into account. For this purpose, qualitative data has been collected on the web forum ‘Stormfront’, supplemented by extensive online interviews with eleven of its members. It is demonstrated that those experiencing stigmatization in offline social life regard the forum as a virtual community that functions as an online refuge, whereas those who – because of special circumstances – do not experience offline stigmatization do not display an online sense of community. It is concluded that offline stigmatization underlies virtual community formation by Dutch right-wing extremists. Because this mechanism may have broader significance, additional hypotheses for future research are formulated.

Tags: Extreme Right, Forums, Qualitative