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Virality and Morphogenesis of Right Wing Internet Populism


Eva Kimminich and Julius Erdmann

Information and its individual interpretations are highly discussed in social media. Their use and misuse is an important subject for cultural and media studies. The theoretical framework of this volume is based on a synopsis of socio-constructivist and semiotic paradigms, which permit insight into ongoing adjustments of the social perception of reality and the thereby changing benchmarks. The assembled micro-studies concentrate primarily on right-wing Internet populism in Germany, France and Italy and allow a more precise idea of the effects the disseminated myths, metaphors and memes can have: Becoming viral, they can have an influence on a society’s semiosphere, i.e.on common sense and social life.

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The Shift of Meaning and Semiospheric Turbulences

As a deductive reasoning of our casual studies, we can now retain a more precise idea of the effects the superabundance of information and interpretations has, which in turn itself is caused by the ample spreading of information and interpretations. Boosted themselves by the technical possibilities of social media, they can have an influence on a society’s semiosphere – and thus on common sense and social life – which is not to be underestimated.

As an example, I will take the right-wing information platform PI-News launched in 2004 (also see Kimminich 2016 and Thom in this volume) in order to sketch out a cuspidate scenario of what the shift of meaning can result in on the one side, pointing out the necessity for reaction on the other.

PI-News notably offers an insight into a purposefully interpretative game with the semantic categories of the self and the other, reinforced by its authors since the refugee influx in Germany. Linked to the definition of a positive self and a constructed negative other, the opposition is expanded and acuminated. The Western and Islamic cultures are confronted with each other in order to create an atmosphere of fear and a concrete enemy image, both requiring as such a proclaimed and much needed action of political governance.

By spreading randomized information about the increasing numbers of refugees, the intrusion of Islamic terrorists hiding among the refugees, or for example by...

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