November Books 12) The New Face of Digital Populism (Demos study)
This short book, published by Demos and mostly written by Jamie Bartlett, Jonathan Birdwell and Mark Littler, presents the results of a large and detailed survey of Facebook supporters of populist far-right movements in various western European countries, including the EDL and BNP in the UK and Vlaams Belang here. (Hungary's Jobbik was included in the original project but dropped for reasons not really explained.) The results are interesting in various ways. Supporters of such groups tend to have much less trust in the judicial system, their own government, the European Union and the mainstream media than most people do. But they also tend to have a belief in the political process (which is I suppose why they are in organised groups in the first place), usually motivated by concerns over immigration and perceptions of Islam. I wish (and I think the researchers wish) that they had also included a question or questions about the use of political violence; Norway was added to the list of countries surveyed after the Breivik attacks in June. There is an interesting discussion in the appendix of the methodology and ethics of conducting research among Facebook users, and also how to spot trolls and remove their answers. Worth a look.