Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

World Languages

Major Professor

Camilla Vásquez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nicole Tracy-Ventura, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tara Deubel, Ph.D.


critical discourse analysis, digital discourse, Germany, multimodal discourse analysis, social media


This study examines right-wing, nationalist-conservative discourses on Twitter. Specifically, this study explores the features of right-wing discourses and counter-discourses in the context of the European migrant crisis in 2015 and the terrorist attack in Berlin, Germany, in 2016. Informed by critical discourse analysis and multimodal discourse analysis, the analysis focuses on discursive strategies and semiotic and multimodal resources found in tweets that either endorse or challenge anti-refugee stances during the aforementioned time frames. Additionally, this study explores to what extent the platform-specific technological affordances facilitate dialogic interaction between users who express right-wing opinions and users who challenge right-wing discourses.

The findings show that right-wing discourses construct negative presentations of migrants as well as mainstream politicians. Users employ discursive strategies to depict migrants and refugees as a threat to German culture and society and to the national security, and blame mainstream politicians, particularly the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, to be responsible for the perceived downfall of Germany. Users leverage the technological affordances of Twitter, which promotes new forms of political discourse. Conversely, counter-discourses construct positive presentations of refugees triggering empathy and compassion and encouraging others to contribute to refugee relief efforts. At the same time, discursive strategies are used to construct negative presentations of right-wing supporters. In fact, right-wing discourses are identified, explained, and criticized, particularly when users interact with right-wing supporters.

This study contributes to a better understanding of how right-wing discourses are constructed and reproduced, facilitated by the affordances of digital communication, as well as challenged and contested. With social media becoming an increasingly important source for information gathering, the study also highlights the need to educate social media users about platform usage and the dangers of ideological manipulation and confirmation bias in order to prevent the naturalization of right-wing discourses through repetition, downplaying, and misinformation.