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Jenni Hokka, Matti Nelimarkka

Affective economy of national-populist images: Investigating national and transnational online networks through visual big data


In our article, we investigate the affective economy of national-populist image circulation on Facebook. This is highly relevant, since social media has been an essential area for the spread of national-populist ideology. In our research, we analyse image circulation as affective practice, combining qualitative and quantitative methods. We use computational data analysis methods to examine visual big data: image fingerprints and reverse image search engines to track down the routes of thousands of circulated images as well as make discourse-historical analysis on the images that have gained most attention among supporters. Our research demonstrates that these existing tools allow social science research to make theory-solid approaches to understand the role of image circulation in creating and sustaining national and transnational networks on social media, and show how national-populist thinking is spread through images that catalyse and mobilise affects – fear, anger and resentment – thus creating an effective affective economy.