Chapter 3: Thinking sociologically about young people and the far-right
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When speaking of young people and the far right, sociological analysis has much to add to a field currently dominated by political science and psychology. Unlike those academic disciplines, a sociology of youth approach appropriately focuses on the ‘how’ of young people developing support for the far right, not the vexed question of ‘why’. Seeking a precise answer to the question ‘WHY’ risks leading the researcher to questionable causal inferences located, (a) in political ideologies; or (b) in developmental psychology of youth. In contrast, a sociological approach to ‘HOW’ can examine the strategies and tactics of far-right groups and leaders to create the circumstances in which a young (white) person might find the rhetoric of race hate and accelerationism appealing. Such an approach can also be used to productively investigate, in detail, the ways young people engage with far-right discourse, offline and online. Moreover, while acknowledging that precarious employment, gender, and mistrust of authorities are all important for sociologists to consider when examining far-right recruitment of youth, none of those things determines how a young person will or will not engage with far-right content. In this chapter, we use a Bourdieusian framework to undertake a critical examination of how young people might engage - culturally and socially - with the far right. We use examples from Europe, the UK, North America, and Australia.

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