Davide Vega D'Aurelio

Immigrant-critical alternative media in online conversations

In this work, we explore the role of immigrant-critical alternative media in shaping collective emotions and users’ evaluations of the immigration issue, using a conversational approach and an empirical case of Flashback, a prominent Swedish online platform where many immi- gration-related discussions take place. Our text and network-based analysis of more than 9,000 conversations during the last election period reveals that the platform users consume and distribute diverging types of media content across a wide ideological spectrum which, however, has a limited influence on the evolution of conversations and users’ stances in the immigration debate. Nevertheless, we find that the conversation networks with alternative media content tend to include more negative evaluations of the immigration issue, attracting fewer participants and lasting less than other conversations. We contextualise our findings using Collins’ Interaction Ritual Chains (IRC) theory and discuss the conditions under which such online conversations can produce high user involvement and, potentially, participants’ radicalisation.