Alt-Right as a Social Movement: Ethnic Competition Theory and Internet Searches for Online Content

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This thesis examines the social determinants of Alt-Right activity and provides an empirical assessment of whether the Alt-Right is influenced by social processes similar to those explaining participation in traditional

This thesis examines the social determinants of Alt-Right activity and provides an empirical assessment of whether the Alt-Right is influenced by social processes similar to those explaining participation in traditional white supremacist organizations. Using Internet search data from all counties in the United States (U.S.) between 2017 and 2018, I examine the effect of various county-level variables on search volume for Alt-Right content. Results indicate that the determinants of Alt-Right activity systematically differ from what one would expect for conventional racist groups. I find that counties with larger percentages of college graduates, of highly educated non-white and immigrant groups, and higher poverty levels for college graduates tend to have a higher search volume for Alt-Right content. Overall, these findings suggest that, in marked contrast to traditional hate organizations—the Alt-Right’s constituency is comprised predominantly of affluent, college-educated individuals.