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

Social Movements
Social Media
Comparative Perspective
Zoé Kergomard
University of Fribourg
Zoé Kergomard
University of Fribourg

Since the beginning of the 2010s, the rise of alternative online media outlets such as, Le salon beige in France or 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 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. 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, has contributed to the normalization of radical-right worldviews in France over the last decade.
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