Mapping Connective Actions in the Global Alt-Right and Antifa Counterpublics

Weiai Wayne Xu


The study examines how the Alt-Right and the Antifa counterpublics build counteridentities and influences through three connective actions: crowdsourced gatekeeping, hashtag-based framing, and political jamming. By studying social networks of Twitter-based information flows and semantic networks based on hashtag co-occurrence, coupled with bot-detection algorithms, the study presents how counterpublics build like-minded communities for information sharing and use Twitter mentions to seek rapport with fellow counterpublic members and challenge ideological opponents. Both counterpublics adopt counteractions to varying degrees in the form of oppositional framing, mockery, and trolls. Their hashtags suggest that the Alt-Right is a transnational alliance of populism and ethnonationalism capitalizing on U.S. President Donald Trump and his Make America Great Again movement, whereas Antifa’s identity is more decentralized and activist-oriented, defined by progressive causes, offline rallies, and cyber operations. The results of the study shed light on digitally mediated counterpublics and how connective actions support their goals.


counterpublic, connective action, collective action, Alt-Right, Antifa, social media

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