The Yale Undergraduate Research Journal


The growing overlap between three important phenomena—the increasingly widespread use of social media (especially as a tool for political communication), the current populist zeitgeist (as described by Cas Mudde), and the rise of right-wing nationalism—make the question of how social media can be employed as a platform for the amplification of populist-nationalist discourse particularly pressing. This paper explores the affordances of social media that allow for its employment in the creation and propagation of populist-nationalist discourse, particularly the elective affinity between social media and populism, the way that social media can provide a platform for the emotive element of populist-nationalist discourse, and how social media can facilitate the amplification of conspiratorial thinking (characteristic of right-wing populism). To further elucidate this theoretical discussion, this paper will also explore Donald Trump’s online discourse surrounding the 2018 migrant caravan as a case study. Ultimately, this paper highlights how social media has provided an effective medium for the increasing interplay between nationalist and populist discourse.