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Askanius, T., Molas, B. & Amarasingam, A. (2024). Far-right extremist narratives in Canadian and Swedish Covid-19 protests: A comparative case study of the Freedom Movement and Freedom Convoy. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Far-right extremist narratives in Canadian and Swedish Covid-19 protests: A comparative case study of the Freedom Movement and Freedom Convoy
2024 (English)In: Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, ISSN 1943-4472, E-ISSN 1943-4480Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This comparative case study of the Freedom Movement in Sweden and the Freedom Convoy in Canada provides insights into the processes of transnationalization involved in the (re)production of far-right narratives around the COVID-19 pandemic. Focusing on the online media of these protest movements we explore the extent to which the political and cultural context shaped far-right meta narratives and more universal concerns around the pandemic. The study finds significant similarities in how protest narratives in the two countries were constructed and appropriated to intersect with far-right extremism and anti-establishment ideas but also that these narratives were repurposed to make sense in two national contexts characterized by stark differences in the level of restrictions imposed and curtailment of civic rights. Unpacking the local/global intricacies of these narratives helps us understand the ubiquity of contemporary anti-government and anti-establishment discourse propelled by the far-right but also its malleability and flexibility in terms of how it is made to fit different political contexts and scenarios across liberal democracies. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2024
Keywords
COVID-19 protests, far-right extremism, extremist narratives, conspiracy theories, transnational movements
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-66628 (URN)10.1080/19434472.2024.2340492 (DOI)
Funder
Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, 2019–13780
Available from: 2024-04-06 Created: 2024-04-06 Last updated: 2024-05-14Bibliographically approved
Askanius, T. & Stoencheva, J. (2024). On memes and mugs: Everyday extremism in the (digital) mainstream. The Psychologist, May
Open this publication in new window or tab >>On memes and mugs: Everyday extremism in the (digital) mainstream
2024 (English)In: The Psychologist, Vol. MayArticle in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.)) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
The British Psychological Society, 2024
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-66889 (URN)
Projects
OppAttune projektet (Horizon 2023-2025)
Available from: 2024-04-24 Created: 2024-04-24 Last updated: 2024-04-25Bibliographically approved
Askanius, T., Haselbacher, M., Reeger, U. & Stoencheva, J. (2024). Visualisation report of emerging extremist narratives across Europe. Malmö University; Austrian Academy of Sciences
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Visualisation report of emerging extremist narratives across Europe
2024 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this report is to provide a comprehensive overview of existing knowledge on contemporary extremist narratives circulating online in three countries across Europe; Austria, Bulgaria and Sweden. To achieve this, the report draws on a review of an extensive body of previous research and secondary data sources, pursuing two primary objectives: firstly, it maps what kind of extremist narratives are on offer across Europe today, and second, it identifies where across the digital mainstream, these are currently in circulation.

Upon reviewing the available evidence, two key topics emerge as central to the proliferation of extremist narratives in Europe. First, extremist narratives continue to predominantly emerge around anti-migration ideas and sentiments. Contemporary anti-immigration narratives echo familiar themes and long-standing ideas that European societies are collapsing under the weight of enforced multiculturalism and/or that European/white populations are being replaced by immigrant communities and in particular Muslim “invaders”.  Such anti-immigration narratives, which continue to take on new forms and tap into shifting conspiratorial beliefs and falsehoods, circulate openly today and in mainstream media.

Second, the Covid19 pandemic gave rise to a host of anti-establishment narratives some of which veered towards illiberal and anti-democratic ideas and behaviours. These narratives peddled widely circulated conspiracy theories suggesting that a malevolent global elite exploited or orchestrated the pandemic to dismantle European societies, infringe upon civil liberties and harm populations through the vaccination programs.  Anti-establishment narratives sparked during the pandemic continue to circulate and take on new forms in online spaces today.

Beyond the key topics outlined by OppAttune - vaccination, migration, silent narratives and protectionism - this report provides evidence that climate change and gender are emerging as key topics around which new extremist narratives and conspiracy theories tend to gravitate in Europe today.

In its efforts to identify the key online spaces in which extremist narratives occur, the report finds that these move across a wide range of online spaces ranging from well-known global social media platforms to more fringe and country-specific sites operating at the margins of the digital mainstream. These range from alternative news sites, websites and blogs to fringe video sharing platforms such as Rumble, BitChute, Odysee; the online messaging services Telegram, Discord and Viber; discussion forums like Reddit and mainstream social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram. Some of the online platforms identified are specific to the national contexts. In the Swedish landscape of online media discussion forums Flashback Forum and Familjeliv along with SwebbTube emerge as prominent conduits for extremist narratives and divisive discourse. Specific to the context of Bulgaria are Spodeli, Kaldata, Dir and BG-Mamma, all of which are online forums affording anonymous and relatively unmoderated discussions.

In addition, focusing on the transnational and multi-language forum Reddit, the report provides preliminary analytical insights into the dynamics of online discussions on migration among ordinary citizens in the three countries. These empirical insights suggest that extremist narratives proliferate across the three subreddits and provide ample evidence of the increasing penetration of exclusionary and stigmatising discourse into the digital mainstream. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Malmö University; Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2024
Series
Extremism, Narratives and Attuned Dialogue: New Perspectives
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-66166 (URN)
Projects
COUNTERING OPPOSITIONAL POLITICAL EXTREMISM THROUGH ATTUNED DIALOGUE: TRACK, ATTUNE, LIMIT
Funder
EU, Horizon Europe, 101095170
Available from: 2024-02-28 Created: 2024-02-28 Last updated: 2024-02-28Bibliographically approved
Strange, M. & Askanius, T. (2023). Migrant-focused inequity, distrust and an erosion of care within Sweden’s healthcare and media discourses during COVID-19. Frontiers in Human Dynamics, 5
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Migrant-focused inequity, distrust and an erosion of care within Sweden’s healthcare and media discourses during COVID-19
2023 (English)In: Frontiers in Human Dynamics, E-ISSN 2673-2726 , Vol. 5Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Despite initial suggestions that the COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone equally, it quickly became clear that some were much worse affected than others. Marginalization—including poverty, substandard accommodation, precarious or no employment, reduced access to healthcare and other key public goods—was clearly correlated with higher rates of both contagion and fatality. For Sweden, COVID-19 inequality could be seen along clear racial and socio-economic lines, with some of the first high death rates seen amongst Somali communities, where individuals had contracted the virus through unsafe employment as taxi drivers transporting wealthier Swedes home from their winter holidays. At the same time, actors on the extra parliamentarian far-right in Sweden were quick to blame the country's relatively high per-capita fatality rate on persons born outside Sweden working in the healthcare and care home sector. Media frames affirming racial stereotypes grounded in cultural racism circulated across the ecosystem of alternative media in the country. In both healthcare and the media, we see growing forms of exclusion disproportionately affecting migrants. Such intertwined exclusions in Sweden, as the article argues, are a sign of a wider disintegration of Swedish society in which individuals lose trust in both the core institutions as well as across different parts of society. Drawing on Davina Cooper's understanding of the relationship between the state and other public institutions with individuals as based on “touch,” the article explores how exclusionary practices impact this relationship. Our key argument is that, whilst ostensibly such practices often most materially hurt minority groups (e.g., migrants), they are indicative of—and accelerate—a broader disintegration of society through undermining a logic of “care” necessary to sustain social bonds.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Frontiers Media S.A., 2023
Keywords
Covid19, Inequality, migrants, care, public health, media discourse
National Category
Media and Communications Political Science International Migration and Ethnic Relations Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-62873 (URN)10.3389/fhumd.2023.1243289 (DOI)001092320100001 ()2-s2.0-85178134459 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2023-09-29 Created: 2023-09-29 Last updated: 2024-02-05Bibliographically approved
Brock, M. & Askanius, T. (2023). Raping turtles and kidnapping children: Fantasmatic logics of Scandinavia in Russian and German anti-gender discourse. Nordic Journal of Media Studies, 5(1), 95-114
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Raping turtles and kidnapping children: Fantasmatic logics of Scandinavia in Russian and German anti-gender discourse
2023 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Media Studies, E-ISSN 2003-184X, Vol. 5, no 1, p. 95-114Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study examines the social, political, and fantasmatic logics involved in the production of contemporary discourses about Scandinavia as a symbolic site and imagined place of sexual and moral decay and as a gender dysphoric dystopia by actors in the global anti-gender movement. Empirically, we draw on a rich digital archive of multi-modal media texts from an ongoing research project on anti-gender movements in Russia and Germany – two countries which provide particularly poignant examples of sites in which this mode of anti-gender propaganda is currently on the rise. In the analysis, we explore the discursive workings of a particularly prominent node in the material – that of the vulnerable child – and show how this figure is construed and instrumentalised to add urgency and fuel outrage among domestic audiences in Russia and Germany.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Nordicom, 2023
Keywords
anti-gender propaganda, traditional values, discursive logics, Russia, Germany
National Category
Gender Studies Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-61371 (URN)10.2478/njms-2023-0006 (DOI)
Projects
The child as cipher for a politics of ‘traditional values’ in the anti-gender movement: A comparative study of Russia and Germany
Available from: 2023-06-26 Created: 2023-06-26 Last updated: 2024-01-15Bibliographically approved
Askanius, T., Kavada, A., Mattoni, A., Uldam, J. & Kaun, A. (2023). Tying up Goliath : Activist strategies for confronting and harnessing digital power. In: Buxton, Nick (Ed.), State of power 2023: Digital power (pp. 94-104). TNI : Transnational institute
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Tying up Goliath : Activist strategies for confronting and harnessing digital power
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2023 (English)In: State of power 2023: Digital power / [ed] Buxton, Nick, TNI : Transnational institute , 2023, p. 94-104Chapter in book (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
TNI : Transnational institute, 2023
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-62980 (URN)978-90-70563-88-2 (ISBN)
Available from: 2023-10-05 Created: 2023-10-05 Last updated: 2023-10-12Bibliographically approved
Askanius, T., Mårtensson, L., Martinez Barbieri, N., Fahlén, L., Renberg, K. & Absurdum Temporary Art, *. (2022). "Den svenska kvinnan": [Performance lecture]. Malmö: Malmö universitet
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"Den svenska kvinnan": [Performance lecture]
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2022 (Swedish)Artistic output (Unrefereed)
Abstract [sv]

En iscensatt föreläsning i gränslandet mellan vetenskap och scenkonst om det våldsbejakande kvinnohatet i digitala miljöer.

Sverige lyfts ofta fram som ett internationellt föregångsland när det gäller jämställdhet och kvinnors lika rättigheter. Men det är inte alla som håller med. Forskaren Tina Askanius tar med oss på en resa djupt ner i internets avkrokar där kvinnohatet frodas och Sverige framställs som ett land styrt av mansföraktspolitik och jämställhetsgalenskap. Här debatteras ”den svenska kvinnan” flitigt. Vem är egentligen ”den svenska kvinnan”? Varför betraktas hon som farlig? Varför var det ett misstag att ge henne rösträtt? Varför förtjänar hon att bli våldtagen? Varför ska hon dö?

I den här föreställningen möts vetenskaplig forskning och scenkonstuttryck som ger nya perspektiv på denna högst aktuella samhällsfråga. Föreläsningen iscensätts av Absurdum Temporary Art som genom bland annat koreografi och musik ramar in olika delar av den digitala sfär som vi alla lever med dagligen, där den svenska kvinnan betraktas både som någon som måste skyddas, och någon som måste utplånas.

Place, publisher, year, pages
Malmö: Malmö universitet, 2022
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-57968 (URN)
Available from: 2023-02-02 Created: 2023-02-02 Last updated: 2023-02-02Bibliographically approved
Møller Hartley, J. & Askanius, T. (2022). #MeToo 2.0 as a Critical Incident: Voices, Silencing, and Reckoning in Denmark and Sweden. In: Andrea Baker; Usha Manchanda Rodrigues (Ed.), Reporting on Sexual Violence in the MeToo Era: (pp. 33-47). London: Routledge
Open this publication in new window or tab >>#MeToo 2.0 as a Critical Incident: Voices, Silencing, and Reckoning in Denmark and Sweden
2022 (English)In: Reporting on Sexual Violence in the MeToo Era / [ed] Andrea Baker; Usha Manchanda Rodrigues, London: Routledge, 2022, p. 33-47Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This empirical chapter examines the experience of reporting on, and advocating around, the #MeToo movement 2.0 in Denmark and Sweden, two Scandinavian countries that are ranked among the most gender-equal societies in the world. The #MeToo debates developed in different directions in the two countries, as well as over different time trajectories since its revitalization in 2017. Using the metaphor of “voice(s),” what voices were heard or silenced in the years following the initial #MeToo debate? How were the whys and hows of reporting on sexual violence renegotiated in the post-#MeToo era? We use a mixed methods approach that draws on quantitative and qualitative content analysis; in-depth interviews with journalists, nongovernmental organizations, and activists in both countries (n = 20); participant observations from #MeToo events; and our own participation as expert sources in the coverage of the development of #MeToo in Denmark and Sweden. The study shows how the different patterns of silencing and speaking up illustrate a broader renegotiation of boundaries along two axes. The first axis relates to objectivity/subjectivity in journalistic practices, and the second axis links to the structural/individual foci in the reporting on issues related to sexual violence. However, these renegotiations are highly contextual and intertwined with the political context and civil societal structures in Denmark and Sweden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Routledge, 2022
Keywords
#metoo
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-55303 (URN)10.4324/9781003220411-4 (DOI)9781032115511 (ISBN)9781003220411 (ISBN)
Available from: 2022-11-09 Created: 2022-11-09 Last updated: 2022-11-17Bibliographically approved
Askanius, T., Stoencheva, J. & Modani, H. (2022). The Alternative Influence Network (AIN) of the Swedish far-right on YouTube: a network analysis. In: Influerarnas marknad, konsumtionskulturen, samhället och juridiken​: . Paper presented at Influerarnas marknad, konsumtionskulturen, samhället och juridiken​, Lund University 2 December 2022 ​​. Lund
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Alternative Influence Network (AIN) of the Swedish far-right on YouTube: a network analysis
2022 (English)In: Influerarnas marknad, konsumtionskulturen, samhället och juridiken​, Lund, 2022Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Extended abstract

This paper explores the influencer practices of an online network of individuals, extra-parliamentary groups, and alternative media on the far-right, promoting content ranging from mainstream conservatism and ethnopluralism all the way to overtly white supremacist ideas. These actors vary in their beliefs and values on the far-right spectrum, but unite in their opposition to feminism, social justice, left-wing politics and mainstream media creating a collaborative ecosystem around these issues that Lewis (2020) dubs the “alternative influence network.” This study identifies central nodes in and maps the composition of the alternative influence network (AIN) on YouTube distinct to the context of Sweden. We ask: How are YouTube channels networked to form an AIN connecting the extra-parliamentarian far-right in Sweden? To what extent does the extra-parliamentarian far-right in Sweden connect across individual influencers, groups/organisations and alternative far-right news media?  How do actors in the network engage in influencers practices combining commercial (self-)branding strategies, marketing and monetization schemes with political propaganda techniques?   

The network analysis is based on a sample of YouTube channels which includes a combination of far-right groups (9), individual far-right influencers (32), and hyper-partisan/far-right alternative news media (11). In a first analytical step, drawing on the results of a network analysis of videos (n=8531), we show how these actors are connected by an interlocking series of connective practices including guest appearances on each other’s YouTube channels as well as a variety of referencing- and hyperlinking practices. We then take a qualitative case study approach to examine the influencer practices of central nodes in the network to provide an in-depth examination of the various ways political influencers on the far-right intersperse business strategies with political propagation techniques.  

The analysis demonstrates how, much like online influencers in any other field, these actors conform to the market logics of attentional economy of the platform society (Van Djick Poell and de Waahl 2018). We may understand these “Political influencers” as content creators repurposing influencer marketing techniques to impart ideological ideas to their audiences (Lewis 2018). Similar to other creators aiming to reach influencer status in the digital sphere, they attempt to self-brand as micro celebrities and build an online following, encouraging listeners to subscribe to their channels, like their content, and engage with it and the creators via the comment field. Creating deeply intimate connections with their followers enables AIN actors to promote far right ideas and conspiracy theories, in ways very similar to how a fashion influencer will promote their clothing style or brand. To boost engagement, AIN actors address timely and controversial events from a unique angle – in their case, often with a shocking/conspiratorial element and strategic use of controversy. This distinctiveness in approach is arguably what attracts their increasingly large follower base, in addition to strategically mixing in misinformation and disinformation which are found to engage with their novelty element, and hence possess a larger spreadability potential than factual information (Vosoughi et al. 2018). However, due to the added challenge of being forced to “dance around” YouTube policies and carefully toe the lines of legality and the platform’s Community Guidelines, AIN creators are required to be creative in their linking and reference practices if they want to stay on the platform.

A variety of different marketing and promotion techniques are at work just as the network of channels provide a window onto the broader commercial market of far-right merchandise in Sweden today. Although mostly unaffiliated with formal groups, actors in the so called “Swedish YouTube family” often stream wearing different forms of merchandise such as caps with AfS’ logo, t-shirts from Medborgerlig Samling or DFS and other attires produced and sold by actors on the extra parliamentarian far-right in Sweden today. Some channel hosts offer others in the network the opportunity to promote their products, events or news (e.g., on upcoming protests) in return for a fee. Others again use their channels as a platform for advertising specific products - anything from self-defense courses and pepper spray to protein powder and fruit juice – and promote brands or companies that either sponsor the channel or that the actors themselves are directly involved in.   

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lund: , 2022
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-56336 (URN)
Conference
Influerarnas marknad, konsumtionskulturen, samhället och juridiken​, Lund University 2 December 2022 ​​
Funder
Wallenberg Foundations, MMW.2016.001
Available from: 2022-12-01 Created: 2022-12-01 Last updated: 2023-09-07Bibliographically approved
Uldam, J. & Askanius, T. (2022). Time for Climate Action?: Political Actors’ Uses of Twitter to Focus Public Attention on the Climate Crisis During the 2019 Danish General Election. International Journal of Communication (16), 385-408
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Time for Climate Action?: Political Actors’ Uses of Twitter to Focus Public Attention on the Climate Crisis During the 2019 Danish General Election
2022 (English)In: International Journal of Communication, E-ISSN 1932-8036, no 16, p. 385-408Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines civil society uses of Twitter to promote the climate crisis as an issue in the 2019 national election campaign in Denmark. Theoretically, we draw on Cammaerts’s notion of the mediation opportunity structure and Wright, Nyberg, De Cock, and Whiteman’s notion of climate imaginaries. Methodologically, we draw on Bennett and Segerberg’s approach to studying networked interactions on Twitter. Our findings show that neither the legacy press nor MP candidates used climate-related hashtags promoted by civil society actors. MP candidates did frequently use climate-related hashtags. Nonetheless, these were mainly center-left candidates who mostly called for climate action to be propelled by green growth and technological solutions, while civil society actors called for climate action to be propelled by solidarity and systemic change. We discuss how these articulations of the climate crisis have implications for climate imaginaries and, ultimately, possibilities to act.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
USC Annenberg Press, 2022
Keywords
climate crisis debate, mediation opportunity structure, Twitter
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-49375 (URN)000789589100023 ()
Available from: 2022-01-16 Created: 2022-01-16 Last updated: 2022-11-29Bibliographically approved
Projects
Digital radicalization and analogue extremism? A comparative analysis of violent extremism in the takfiri and extreme-right movements; Publications
Askanius, T., Stoencheva, J. & Modani, H. (2022). The Alternative Influence Network (AIN) of the Swedish far-right on YouTube: a network analysis. In: Influerarnas marknad, konsumtionskulturen, samhället och juridiken​: . Paper presented at Influerarnas marknad, konsumtionskulturen, samhället och juridiken​, Lund University 2 December 2022 ​​. Lund
Understanding differences in gender justice debates across Denmark and Sweden through the prism of #metoo; Malmö University, Faculty of Culture and Society (KS), Rethinking Democracy (REDEM); Publications
Møller Hartley, J. & Askanius, T. (2022). #MeToo 2.0 as a Critical Incident: Voices, Silencing, and Reckoning in Denmark and Sweden. In: Andrea Baker; Usha Manchanda Rodrigues (Ed.), Reporting on Sexual Violence in the MeToo Era: (pp. 33-47). London: Routledge
The child as cipher for a politics of ‘traditional values’ in the anti-gender movement: A comparative study of Russia and Germany; Malmö UniversityImagining Sweden: “Sweden” as lodestar and punching bag for far-right movements in the US; Malmö University
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0003-4953-2852

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