Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


School of Journalism and Mass Communications

First Advisor

Brett Robertson


Despite a long history of counterterrorism strategy, the U.S. has seen a drastic increase in domestic attacks over the past decade. Previous studies have found that, due to increasing content-related restrictions, many individuals who participate in extremist-related discourse have migrated away from mainstream social media and toward alternative social media platforms. This study consists of a comprehensive content analysis based on Multimedia Critical Discourse Analysis theories to study how meaning is created via the combination of text, image, and symbols, as well as how various persuasive narratives and rhetorical appeals are used within extreme discourse on social media. This research serves to progress the canon of counter violent extremist (CVE) research from a communication perspective. Through a modernized, thorough understanding of communication regarding extremism, the CVE professional community can work to develop more effective countermeasures. Results show that images are commonly used to enhance the post’s main argument. Results also found that extreme discourse most commonly includes a political narrative, an attack or mockery of the out-group, a logical argument, and inclusive pronouns.


© 2023, Naomi Kathryn Lawrence

Available for download on Saturday, August 31, 2024