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Expedient, Affective, and Sustained Solidarities? Mediated Contestations of Islamophobia in the Case of Brexit, the Christchurch Terror Attack, and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Poole, Elizabeth; Giraud, Eva H.; Richardson, John E.; de Quincey, Ed


Eva H. Giraud

John E. Richardson

Ed de Quincey


This article advances research on mediated solidarity, by analyzing the contestation of Islamophobia on the social media platform Twitter, in the context of Brexit, the Christchurch terror attack, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing on a unique longitudinal dataset, gathered over a 5-year period, we elucidate how evolving relations between platforms and trigger events can enable solidarity networks to shift dominant narratives. Taking each event in turn, we demonstrate how on initial analysis these events appear to generate solidarities that fall within a spectrum of solidarity. Brexit produced “expedient solidarities” where Islamophobia was leveraged in support of wider political identities and commitments. The Christchurch terrorist attack engendered “affective solidarities,” wherein expressions of empathy gained visibility but gave way to a long tail of hate. Finally, in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, we analyze how sustained solidarity networks arose through antagonistic exchanges with nationalist movements that propagated Islamophobic misinformation. Yet our longitudinal and comparative methodology allowed for a more complicated picture to emerge, which troubled existing typologies of digital solidarity. The broader implications of our findings for social media research are therefore twofold. First, we underline the empirical value of mixed methods approaches, as these complex forms of solidarity only became legible through combining computational, qualitative, and quantitative methods. Second, we argue for the theoretical importance of conceiving how the entanglement of platform affordances and events gives rise to multi-dimensional solidarities that offer the potential to sustain counternarrative content over time.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 6, 2023
Online Publication Date Sep 30, 2023
Publication Date Sep 30, 2023
Deposit Date Oct 2, 2023
Publicly Available Date Oct 3, 2023
Journal Social Media + Society
Print ISSN 2056-3051
Electronic ISSN 2056-3051
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 3
Pages 1-16
Keywords media solidarities, Twitter, affect, Islamophobia, narratives, contestation,