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Distrust, conspiracy, and hostility: Using sentiment analysis to explore right-wing extremism in a Canadian subreddit

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
Within the past five years, the Internet, particularly social media, has grown considerably in importance and ubiquity in the lives of Canadians. At the same time, the presence of right-wing extremism (RWE) in these online spaces has become an increasing concern. This study examined how RWE has moved from the fringe to the mainstream, combining Sentiment-Based Identification of Radical Authors (SIRA) with qualitative thematic analysis in order to understand how RWE beliefs exist on the Canadian subreddit r/Canada. The results of this study revealed three themes that demonstrated the presence of right-wing extremism in this non-extremist space and the manner in which these beliefs are perpetuated: distrust of the government and "the left", the "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory, and the presence of overt and covert bigotry. These findings have suggestions for using SIRA as a research tool, as well as potential future directions in researching RWE in non-extremist spaces.
64 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Kinney, Bryan
Thesis advisor: Frank, Richard
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