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Typology of Hate: Hegemonic Sign Systems in Hate Speech

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Title: Typology of Hate: Hegemonic Sign Systems in Hate Speech
Author(s): Partanen, Johanna E.
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts
Degree program: Master's Programme in Intercultural Encounters
Specialisation: Humanities Track
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2022
If culture fossilizes in language, what does language say about us? Typology of Hate: Hegemonic Sign Systems in Hate Speech examines how culturally semiotic signs build the themes of gendered hate speech in the contemporary hybrid media environment. More than ever, the role taken in discourse previously governed by “intellectuals” is shifting, and ideas of significance are circulated, debated and constructed online. Hate speech occupying space in mainstream culture is seen as a risk that modern technology enables in a completely new way. Online hate speech forms a complicated network of multimodal interactions, which makes defining it – and consequently, managing it – more challenging. Definitions of hate speech cannot focus on individual utterances or speech acts alone but must be looked against a wider socio-cultural impact by studying the meanings of signs and significations constructed in language against their cultural backdrop. This Master’s Thesis attempts to define hate speech by recognizing some of the thematic tropes repeated in its different variations, particularly its gendered form, which are semiotized online. Through an observation in digital ethnography and methods of discourse analysis, the qualitative data of the research was collected from r/TheRedPill on Reddit in March 2022. Data shows that the case study’s discourse is largely built on three thematic tropes defining gendered hate speech. Heteropatriarchal constructions of gender, systemic devaluation and regulation of femininity, and pseudoscientific beliefs are at the core of the group’s hateful discourse. This thesis has recognized dominant patterns through examples of gendered hate speech in radicalized language in the case study of the Red Pill community, and further paves way towards a practical index manual on hate speech reporting and recognition.
Keyword(s): online subcultures, feminist research, cultural hegemony, cultural semiotics, hate speech, linguistics, linguistic semiotics, yuri lotman, semiosphere

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