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Analysis of and Responses to Extremist Narratives

Pilier 2 "Recherche collaborative"
Clusters - Cluster 2 - Culture, creativity & inclusive society
Responsable scientifique
Unité / Service

Social protest movements, the Covid-19 crisis and the war in Ukraine have triggered increased polarization of debates. They have challenged European democracies and thus fostered extreme narratives, with strong and numerous consequences for citizens, politics, and the democratic exercise. The ARENAS consortium focuses on the narratives as crucial nexuses, because “the battle of stories, not the debate on issues” (Cornog 2014) can determine the way that citizens react to political events. A strong antagonism is constructed between extremist and mainstream narratives, which is evident if we compare the narratives on the on-going war in Ukraine. Extremist narratives always reflect the complex intersection of spatial and temporal context where the narratives are constructed, circulated, consumed, and reproduced. They are characterized by their reliance on pathos and emotions, as well as the importance of violence in them: they tend to proliferate in historical periods characterized by social turmoil, and construct an alternative reality and promote negative emotions and behavioral patterns that run against mainstream and official narratives. In social media and through the connections between social and “traditional” media, extremist narratives are naturalized and have an impact on mainstream narratives. ARENAS will provide concrete responses to the consequences of these extremist narratives by: i) measuring and mapping the spread of extremist narratives; ii) defining remediation actions for individuals and groups affected by extremist narratives; iii) providing educational and institutional propositions to anticipate future challenges in terms of the construction and circulation of extremist narratives; and iv) identifying multi-level policy recommendations to help counter extremist narratives, both at the institutional and political level, and at the level of associations and citizens.