Author ORCID Identifier

0000-0001-8872-4289

Date of Award

8-10-2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Marian Meyers

Second Advisor

Carrie P. Freeman

Third Advisor

Yannick Veilleux-Lepage

Fourth Advisor

Walter Patrick Wade

Fifth Advisor

Dror Walter

Abstract

Nearly 50 people have been killed by misogynist incels (involuntary celibates) during mass violence attacks since 2014. This feminist media studies dissertation explores the media coverage and online activity of this growing community of men— a subculture surrounding an inability to find romantic or sexual partners despite desiring them. This mixed methods project consists of three studies, including a social mapping of incels online using hyperlink network analysis, a thematic mapping of the largest dedicated incel web forum (incels.is) using the Analysis of Topic Model Networks (ANTMN) method, and a frame analysis of U.S. print news coverage of incels also using ANTMN. Chapter 4 results indicate the incelosphere is connected to the broader manosphere network, as well as to a larger ecosystem of extremist websites, and that these groups frequently monitor the mainstream media, government and academic channels for tactical engagement (Munoz, 1999) with the content found there. Chapter 5 finds the discourse on incels.is centers around four primary frames, including Physical Appearance, Lifestyle, Theory/Identity and Online Community. Moreover, results of this chapter indicate that users on the forum deploy tactics of participatory culture, networked affect and collective action framing to build community and mobilize incels within the forum, suggesting the forum community can be understood as a new social movement in the coalescence stage. Chapter 6 results found the vast majority of news media coverage of incels takes place around incidents of incel-perpetrated mass violence and uses four frames, including Law & Order, Culture Wars, Online Extremism and Profile Features.

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