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2017 #SMSociety Theme: Social Media for Social Good or Evil

Our online behaviour is far from virtual–it extends our offline lives. Much social media research has identified the positive opportunities of using social media; for example, how people use social media to form support groups online, participate in political uprising, raise money for charities, extend teaching and learning outside the classroom, etc. However, mirroring offline experiences, we have also seen social media being used to spread propaganda and misinformation, recruit terrorists, live stream criminal activities, reinforce echo chambers by politicians, and perpetuate hate and oppression (such as racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic behaviour).

avatar for Mohammedwesam Amer

Mohammedwesam Amer

Newcastle University
Marie Curie Post Doc
Newcastle
I am Marie Curie fellow and post doctoral researcher at Newcastle University in the UK.

This proposal seeks to better our understanding of how Islamist movements use Social Media to reinforce their discourses, ideologies and thoughts during times of conflict, i.e. ideological levels of struggle. In brief, this study takes as its mission the task of unraveling patterns of rhetorical propaganda employed by the Islamic State (IS) and how this movement attracts individuals from all over the world and influences security in Europe and the world. There are two overlapping discourses which dialectically feed into each other: those of religious revival and political emancipation. By means of these discourses, IS reworks foundational myths and traditional religious symbols to appropriate an imagined past in a highly charged political and conflict-ridden context as a part of the solution to its beleaguered spirituality.
This proposal suggests employing interdisciplinary methods: critical discourse analysis (CDA), Corpus Linguistics, visual content analysis and multimodal analysis. This aims to examine discourse, content and visual frames. The sample is supposed to include all YouTube video clips published by IS and the commentaries associated with these clips in English and Arabic.
The importance of this project lies in understanding the socio-political and cultural-religious dimensions of the conflict and the ensemble of discourses that frame Islamic fundamentalism in general, and IS in particular, as well as how IS persuades recruits from the EU and worldwide.