Curd Benjamin Knüpfer (Free University of Berlin), Carsten Schwemmer (Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich) and Annett Heft (Free University of Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute) published an article on the Politicization and Right-Wing Normalization on Youtube: A Topic-Based Analysis of the “Alternative Influence Network” in the International Journal of Communication.
The study addresses a gap in current research on YouTube’s actual content. Built on Lewis’s (2018) classification of an “alternative influencer” network, the study applies structural topic modeling across all text-based autocaptions from her study’s sample to identify common topics featured on these channels, and to trace politicization over time. The researchers find that political topics increasingly dominate the focus of all analyzed channels, and the convergence of culture and politics occurs mostly about identity-driven issues. Furthermore, they observe that numerous extreme channels do not form distinct clusters, instead the channels blend into the larger content-based network. Lastly, their findings illustrate how political topics may function as connective ties across an initially more diverse network of YouTube influencer channels.
The full paper is available as an open access publication. The paper, “Politicization and Right-Wing Normalization on Youtube: A Topic-Based Analysis of the “Alternative Influence Network”” was published in the journal International Journal of Communication and can be found here: https://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/20369/4381