Liu – Assessing hybrid identities in online extremist communities through sociolinguistic styles

UCREL and FORGE are pleased to announce the next FORGE speaker of the academic year: Dr Shengnan Liu (Lancaster University, CREST). Details of the talk can be found below:


Assessing hybrid identities in online extremist communities through sociolinguistic styles


Style-shifting has been the focus of language variation and change in sociolinguistics since 1960s. As sociolinguistic styles are sensitive to social change (Ure, 1982), it is not surprising that they have become a focus of social psychologists who seek to assess social identities through linguistic styles. ASIA (Automated Social Identity Assessment toolkit) (Koschate et al., 2021), a toolkit which leverages machine learning and natural language processing to automatically assess which identity is situationally salient through sociolinguistic styles, has been proven to be successful in assessing feminist and parent identity in Reddit and Mumsnet online communities. Cork et al (2022) has applied ASIA to assess entrepreneur and libertarian identities. With an interest on the recent rise in online influence of hybrid communities which are characterised by ideological mutations, this study investigates the dynamic nature and influence of hybrid eco-fascist identities. It trains and validates an ASIA model to automatically assess which identity (eco or fascist) is situationally salient. This allows us to examine the dynamic interplay of these identities over time, and the role that linguistic style plays in the expression of the ecological and the fascist identities in eco-fascist movements. To train the model, the study used Reddit data form environmental and far-right forums that were publicly available for the period 2016-2020. Once trained, ASIA was applied to public data from Reddit eco-fascist forums. Topic modelling and corpus linguistics analysis are then adopted to validate the results produced by the ASIA model. The results demonstrate that 1) social linguistics styles can indeed be used to detect and assess hybrid identities, 2) interdisciplinary research on hybrid identity assessment provides new methodological and theoretical insights to social psychology, sociolinguistics, and computational linguistics.


W09, 1400-1450, Thu 08th Dec 2022, Room TBC.