Doctoral Candidate Kayla Preston Publishes an Analysis on Canadian Right-Wing Extremism

July 12, 2023 by Selina Zheng

Image of Kayla PrestonCongratulations to Kayla Preston, a Doctoral candidate, for her first solo-authored article titled “Justifying contentious social and political claims using mundane language: An analysis of Canadian right-wing extremism,” published in the Current Sociology journal. Preston’s work considers a Canadian context, such as our state policies on multiculturalism and intolerance of hateful rhetoric, to signify the importance of identifying the ways in which right-wing extremist groups reach wider audiences through online content. 

Preston’s research conducts a content analysis of 300 posts between Facebook and Twitter by 3 Canadian right-wing extremist groups, focusing on how online spaces are utilized by the groups as a platform to spread right-wing social and political claims and to construct justifications for extreme arguments. Additionally, Preston found that these accounts grow an audience by masking their controversial views through discussing apolitical topics. She draws on the sociology of critical capacity to examine the conflict between Canadian right-wing extremist groups and the broader Canadian society. 

The findings indicate how these groups align with socially acceptable frameworks such as discussing Canadian identity and traditional values, in order to be seen as less contentious. Preston highlights some of the underlying perceived social problems from these groups, particularly social decay, a fear of immigration, and how the groups would focus on traditional belonging and authoritarianism as. Overall, the article identifies how Canadian right-wing extremist groups weave their way into mainstream conversation by applying Patriotic discourse towards mundane language in order to conceal the controversial nature of extreme right-wing claims on society. 

Kayla Preston is currently a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Toronto. Her areas of research interest include extremism, (de)radicalization, gender, political sociology and race. You can also read the full article here.