Right-Wing Populism and the Representation of Immigrants on Social Media. A Critical Multimodal Analysis


  • Maria Ivana Lorenzetti University of Verona




racist discourse, immigration, right-wing populism, critical discourse studies, multimodal critical discourse analysis, social media


This paper presents a multimodal critical discourse analysis of a sample from a larger corpus of multimodal posts about immigration from the social media pages of right-wing populist leaders Donald Trump and Matteo Salvini. Drawing on Van Leeuwen’s framework for the representation of social actors, we investigate how multimodal resources contribute to shaping immigration discourse and to its bias, highlighting exclusionary ideologies through the recontextualisation of social practices. Our analysis reveals how the strategic synergy of images, videos, slogan-like language and the social affordances of Web 2.0 enables the two leaders to spread their nativist propaganda and emphasise the view of immigrants as a threat to security. The othering of immigrants as non-natives is enacted through biased representation based on covert racist stereotypes. At the same time, visual anti-immigration rhetoric allows the leaders to “build their people” and self-promote their role as gate-keepers of the nation-state.


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