When neo-Nazis march and anti-fascists demonstrate: Protean counterpublics in the digital age

Christina Neumayer

Research output: Book / Anthology / Report / Ph.D. thesisPh.D. thesis


Demonstrations organised by neo-Nazis and the New Right, accompanied by large counter protests by anti-fascist groups, civil society networks, and citizens, have become important political events in Germany. Digital media technologies play an increasingly important role in the confrontation between the two ends of the political spectrum framed by historically rooted ideology. This study explores how different media technologies are appropriated by activists, who consider themselves marginalised and oppositional to the mainstream, on both sides of the conflict. The study aims to examine how digital media permeate counterpublics’ (Negt and Kluge 1972; Fraser 1992; Brouwer 2006; Warner 2002) strategies, tactics, and media practices in their struggles for visibility in these protest events.
The counterpublics on both ends of the political spectrum take place and are analysed across three dimensions: [1] technical affordances and media environments; [2] strategies, tactics, and media practices; and [3] political positions and ideologies. The results are based on a data set of online communication, representation, and media coverage on different online media platforms related to marches planned by nationalist groups in the former East Germany, which were accompanied by counter protests by anti-fascist groups, NGOs, and civil society. The data is analysed across these dimensions by using the methodological frameworks of discourse theory (Carpentier 2007; Dahlberg and Phelan 2011; Laclau and Mouffe 1985) and critical discourse analysis (Fairclough 2010; van Dijk 2001; van Dijk 1998a).
Due to the historical significance of the events and taking into account the continuity of the role of media technologies in articulating counter publicity, the case is contextualised through a discussion of the radical right and radical left in present-day Germany as well as an analysis of archived publications from the anti-fascist counter movements to the National Socialist regime in World War II Germany. An empirical and theoretical exploration contributes to the discussion of counterpublics framed by conflictual ideologies in the digital age and to the ongoing discussion concerning the role of digital media technologies in political protest. The author concludes by suggesting a protean and relational perspective on counterpublics in the digital age and the role of radical politics in the mediated environments of contemporary democracy.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherIT-Universitetet i København
Number of pages211
ISBN (Print)978-87-7949-284-4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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