Title

Religious, Racial, or Ethnocultural Prejudice? Assessing Online Islamophobic Sentiment in the American Context

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Empirical inquiry of Islamophobia is an emergent focus in the social sciences. Over half of the peer reviewed literature on the subject has been published in the last five years. Despite increasing interest in Islamophobia, there is no academic consensus for a definition of the term. Moreover, there has been ongoing debate concerning whether Islamophobia is an existing social phenomenon and social problem. These questions are hotly contested by academics, politicians, social commentators in the media, and interested lay persons. Much of the non-academic debate occurs online, specifically in the comment sections of articles and videos published by both local and national newspapers and major news networks. In this study, I performed a content analysis of online commentary pertaining to Islam, Muslims, and Islamophobia in the comments section of articles published by the Washington Post in the spring of 2016, in order to understand the narratives presented by those who believe that Islamophobia is not a social problem and that Islam and Muslims are a threat to the United States and other Western liberal democracies. Although there has been a substantial increase of scholarship pertaining to Islamophobia in recent years, the majority of research has taken place in Europe. Building on this European scholarship, this study is among the first to examine Islamphobic sentiments in the American political context and is, thus, a valuable and timely contribution to multiple literatures.

Category

Social Sciences

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Religious, Racial, or Ethnocultural Prejudice? Assessing Online Islamophobic Sentiment in the American Context

Empirical inquiry of Islamophobia is an emergent focus in the social sciences. Over half of the peer reviewed literature on the subject has been published in the last five years. Despite increasing interest in Islamophobia, there is no academic consensus for a definition of the term. Moreover, there has been ongoing debate concerning whether Islamophobia is an existing social phenomenon and social problem. These questions are hotly contested by academics, politicians, social commentators in the media, and interested lay persons. Much of the non-academic debate occurs online, specifically in the comment sections of articles and videos published by both local and national newspapers and major news networks. In this study, I performed a content analysis of online commentary pertaining to Islam, Muslims, and Islamophobia in the comments section of articles published by the Washington Post in the spring of 2016, in order to understand the narratives presented by those who believe that Islamophobia is not a social problem and that Islam and Muslims are a threat to the United States and other Western liberal democracies. Although there has been a substantial increase of scholarship pertaining to Islamophobia in recent years, the majority of research has taken place in Europe. Building on this European scholarship, this study is among the first to examine Islamphobic sentiments in the American political context and is, thus, a valuable and timely contribution to multiple literatures.