Loughborough University
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Infrastructures of male supremacism: a mixed-methods analysis of the incel wiki

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posted on 2023-02-24, 09:43 authored by Catherine R. Baker

In this thesis I contribute to the growing understanding of the emergent secular male movement, the misogynist incel community. I address a prominent gap in the existent literature on misogynist incels by exploring a prominent but under-researched hub of misogynist incel communication—the incel wiki. Little explored in the academic literature, the incel wiki is an evergrowing, easily accessible, user-generated, internally moderated digital infrastructure that attracts a high level of internet traffic and has become a prominent hub of information for those seeking out information about misogynist incels and related issues. Using a sequential mixed-methods design, I provide important insights into how the misogynist incel community use a wiki to curate and disseminate male supremacist ideology online. 

Firstly, adopting a digital affordances perspective, I use ethnography and network analysis to explore how contributors to the incel wiki leverage aspects of wiki software to create and curate this widely accessible ideological resource, examining features such as accessibility, moderation practices, and site participation. Secondly, employing a discursive psychological perspective, I examine the rhetorical arguments put forward on the incel wiki. My qualitative analysis focuses on two major themes. First, I show how identity is constructed and contested on the incel wiki and functions as a rhetorical tool to inoculate misogynist incels against criticism while simultaneously reinforcing ingroup identity and semantic control. Secondly, my analysis shows how male supremacist and white supremacist ideologies are discursively produced, expressed, and legitimised on the incel wiki, and how the wiki (re)constructs unequal social arrangements rooted in ingrained biological differences, which the incels try to validate using (pseudo)scientific evidence.

Drawing together the findings, the thesis contributes in-depth understanding of the form, function, and content of the incel wiki, conceptualising it as a corrupted, self-initiated infrastructure of meaning that mobilises specific digital affordances and rhetorical strategies to curate, disseminate, and legitimise male supremacist ideology. Pseudo-intellectualism functions as a particularly important, and previously under-researched, rhetorical strategy of misogynist incels, and serves to position biological determinism as a central organising logic of male supremacism.



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Loughborough University

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© Catherine Baker

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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Andrew Chadwick ; Line Nyhagen ; Cristian Tileaga ; Tom Jackson

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  • PhD

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  • Doctoral

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