D5.2 Country Report | January 2023

Authors: Stephen W. Sawyer, Roman Zinigrad – The American University of Paris, Center for Critical Democracy Studies

This report provides empirical evidence to masculinist gender representations with an aim to contribute to the study of the relationship between mediated hegemonic gender representations and violence and extremism in an age of changing gender norms. It analyses the online drivers of far-right radicalisation and of deradicalisation in France.

The report examines the online activity of the two most influential political leaders of the French far-right in the last presidential elections, and of a far-right activist whose online content plays out in the socio-cultural realms of French Internet. Their messages illustrate the intimate connections, shown in previous studies, between far-right ideology and misogynist narratives, and the refinement of their strategies. The study of feminist and anti-masculinist online discourse in this report includes campaigns initiated by social justice organisations fighting for equality, a left-wing political party, as well as by individual activists.

First, the report critically engages with how three public and political agents of radicalisation use social media platforms with the aim of understanding how extreme narratives are expressed online using visual and other communicative tools. This part shows how these agents of radicalisation disseminate their messages on social networking sites and how online audiences respond to them. Second, the report examines three collective stakeholders of deradicalisation who offer counternarratives and strategies online against forms and pathways of radicalisation. It studies how organisations involved in deradicalisation respond to hegemonic gender presentations. Third, analyse “citizen communication” against hegemonic gender representations. This analysis shows how ordinary users’ practices and digital cultures fight against hegemonic gender representations through individual content production and its circulation on social media platforms. The concluding part uses the I-GAP framework to reflect on the ways in which the circulation and consumption of the chosen media objects bolster or decrease alienation, othering, polarisation, and grievance.

We demonstrate the intimate connections between far-right ideology and misogynist narratives and show how the far-right mobilises feminist vocabulary against immigrants and Muslims. We also point to the challenges deradicalisation campaigns, such as counter-speech, encounter in the fight against the surge of far-right extremism.