The Online Visual Group Formation of the Far Right: A Cognitive-Historical Case Study of the British National Party

  • Robin Engström Linnaeus University


This article investigates how the European far right, exemplified by the British National Party (BNP) uses images and other semiotic resources in online group formation. The data consists of a corpus containing all images occurring in articles published on the BNP website between May 2010 and March 2012. Flag elements are used as entry point to the analysis due to their high frequency in the corpus. The article proposes a cognitive-historical approach to Critical Discourse Analysis drawing on Cognitive Linguistics and the Discourse-Historical Approach. The analysis shows that images in BNP articles are not merely accessory features to text but that they send out ideological messages on their own and that they to a certain degree express what cannot be said using text. Flag images show how the BNP has undergone a visual transformation in the last decade, but also that the party constructs out-groups with anti-left and Islamophobic undertones.

Author Biography

Robin Engström, Linnaeus University
Department of Languages