Building 'Bubbles' or Starting a Right-Wing Cultural Revolution? Far-Right Alternative Online Media in France and Western Switzerland

Communication
 
Comparative Perspective
 
Extremism
 
Internet
 
Media
 
Populism
 
Social Media
 
Social Movements
 
Presenter
Zoé Kergomard
University of Fribourg
Authors
Zoé Kergomard
University of Fribourg

Abstract
Since the beginning of the 2010s, the rise of alternative online media outlets such as Fdesouche.com, Le salon beige in France or Lesobservateurs.com in French-speaking Switzerland has contributed to the emergence of a radical-right online “counter-public sphere” that allows for a wide circulation of (fake or true) information and ¨radical-right leaning opinion pieces between Francophone countries. This paper proposes to compare the strategies of the activists (and sometimes former professional journalists) behind these websites on the basis of their own writings, but also the organization of their websites: participation possibilities for readers, online diffusion strategies, sourcing and framing practices in particular. All three websites share the Gramscist idea of a cultural (counter-)revolution against the mainstream “hegemony” thanks to online activism. As such, their radical contestation of the political system and mainstream media actually aims at launching their ideas into the mainstream public sphere. However, the analysis shows that Le salon beige and Lesobservateurs.com mostly keep to a functioning as a radical-right closed bubble, but for different reasons: the former because it addresses an already existing radical-right Catholic milieu; and the latter because of its marginalized position within the Romand public sphere. Fdesouche.com however is flourishing both as a radically alternative website and as a Troyan horse to spread its worldviews into the mainstream public sphere, not least thanks to the wide sharing of its articles on social networks. Although it is still being ostracized by mainstream French media, Fdesouche.com has contributed to the normalization of radical-right worldviews in France over the last decade.
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