Postdoctoral Fellow : Dr Kate Barber

Dr Kate Barber, Linguistics, Cardiff University 

Title: Narrativised Hate: Investigating and mitigating the potential harm of online narratives of sexual violence at the intersection of white and male supremacy.   

My PhD research examined how discourses of sexual violence against women are constructed in blog posts published by far-right and misogynistic communities online. Using a corpus-based sociocognitive discourse analysis approach to examine the blog posts, I explored how knowledge and beliefs around rape and sexual assault are expressed, implied and validated by the bloggers and how the groups converge and diverge in their ideological stance around sexual violence.  

A key aspect of my PhD project involved the study of narratives within the blog posts. Previous research had focused on the content of narrative discourses, rather than the ways in which they are constructed to achieve an immersive storyworld with the ability to engage and influence their readership. For my PhD, I employed narrative analysis beyond content examination to focus instead on the structural elements of these narratives. I mapped how the authors build these storyworlds; how identities shift across the components of the narratives; and how the coda, i.e. the part of the story linking the actions of the past to a present reality, is intensified as a radicalisation device. My research developed alongside an emerging alternative strategy to counter-narratives: inoculation narratives. Instead of countering beliefs which are already set, inoculation narratives offer a type of attitudinal vaccination against persuasion tactics and a more effective way of limiting the influence of online propaganda.   

This Fellowship project is going to focus on extending my research on extremists’ narratives and help me disseminate it through conferences and publications. It will also involve me networking with agencies and research hubs working at the cutting edge of inoculation narrative research and who are, importantly, applying this strategy to pilot studies and policy change with stakeholders in technology.