Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Demonising Migrants in Contexts of Extremism: Analysis of Hate Speech in UK and Spain

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Abstract:  Hate speech has been seen as a problem within democratic societies that has been exacerbated by social media. While platforms claim to moderate content, this proves impossible. Studying popular platforms in the UK and Spain and examining content within community pages dedicated to right-wing parties, we use framing analysis to identify the predominant frames in user comments that contained hate speech against migrants. Our research demonstrates a frequent use of arguments that encourage xenophobic and discriminatory attitudes to flourish. Specifically, we find that immigrants are commonly framed as potential criminals, people who steal resources and erode norms of the dominant culture and traditions. The fact that these frames are commonly used is worrying and indicates xenophobic attitudes exist within both societies under study. However, it is difficult to imagine regulatory systems that would prevent these attitudes from being expressed. Rather, we argue that it is more important to focus on correcting the conditions that cause such attitudes to take hold within a society.

Keywords:  extremism; far‐right parties; hate speech; immigration; social media; Spain; UK



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© Darren Lilleker, Marta Pérez-Escolar. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.