A Growing Far-Right Blogosphere in France

The French far-right has discovered the blogosphere as a platform to discuss and spread its ideology: right-wing blogs make up an increasingly large part of the French political blogosphere. That’s the key lesson from a map published by Le Monde, one of the country’s major newspapers.

Le Monde has published a map of the French political blogosphere (in French) biannually since 2007, when blogs came into focus during the election campaign. Conducted by the company Linkfluence, the study uses quantitative link analysis to determine how close the roughly 1000 blogs under observation are to each other.

The map shows clusters of political blogs from the extreme left to the extreme right. The biggest group are the leftist blogs, among which the website of the oppositional Parti Socialiste is a major point of reference. Leftist blogs make up nearly half of the blogs under observation, but are also the most spread out. Other political movements, such as the Greens and centrists, form denser clusters.

A particular focus is on the “fachosphère” (in French), the extremist blogosphere to the right of France’s conservative government under the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party. This part of the blogosphere has grown considerably since 2007, now making up 12.5 percent of the blogs under observation. Le Monde links this to an ideology of “technological Gramscism,” which is popular among the far right. This approach transfers the ideas of 1920’s Italian communist Antonio Gramsci, who argued that political victory is dependent on cultural hegemony, to the age of the Internet.

A detailed map of the far-right blogosphere (in French) shows different clusters within this group. One is centered around the right-wing party Front National. Two other clusters, ethno-pluralists and the “clash of civilizations” cluster, seem predominantly preoccupied with Islam and immigration, and can be linked to the European new right movement. Smaller clusters are formed by neoconservatives and Catholic traditionalists.

A comparison of the 2011 map to those from 2009 and 2007 also shows some broader trends. France’s political blogosphere is shrinking, a development that is particularly wearing on the conservative cluster linked to the governing UMP. Le Monde speculates that blogs established during the 2007 election campaign have been abandoned, and other authors might have left their blogs for Twitter.

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