Fascist aspirants : fascist forge and ideological learning in the extreme right online milieu
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Learning in extremist settings is often treated as operational, with little regard to how aspiring participants in extremist settings engage with complex and abstract ideological material. This paper examines learning in the context of the amorphous network of digital channels that compose the extreme-right online milieu. Through an in-depth qualitative analysis, we explore how well the prevailing model of extremist ideological learning (in ‘communities of practice’) accounts for the behaviour of aspiring participants of Fascist Forge, a now-defunct extreme-right web forum. The findings suggest that some of the social aspects of communities of practice have been replicated in the online setting of Fascist Forge. However, for a combination of technical and ideological reasons, the more directed and nurturing aspects of learning have not. Several issues are raised about the role of ideological learning in online communities, notably the open accessibility of extremist material, the lack of ideological control leading to potential mutation and innovation by self-learners, and the role of digital learning in the preparation, shaping and recruitment of individuals for real world organising and activism.
Lee , B & Knott , K 2021 , ' Fascist aspirants : fascist forge and ideological learning in the extreme right online milieu ' , Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression , vol. Latest articles . https://doi.org/10.1080/19434472.2020.1850842
Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression
Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
DescriptionThis work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, under Grant ES/N009614/1 (Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats) with funding from the UK Intelligence Community and participating universities.
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