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The Enthymemes of Supporting President Trump: Explaining the Association Between Structural Location, Supporting the President, and Agreeing With Online Extremism

NCJ Number
Social Science Computer Review Volume: Online Dated: February 13, 2020
Date Published
February 2020

This study examined whether individuals who approve of President Trump’s job performance are more accepting of the hateful rhetoric and imagery they encounter online.


Does hateful rhetoric appeal to supporters of President Trump? Prior studies link sexism, racism, Islamophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, and intolerant forms of Christianity to supporting or voting for President Trump. The current study extends this literature by using online survey data (N = 465) of youth and young adults collected in December 2017. Building on previous theoretical explanations of participating in online hate that use routine activity theory and social learning–social structure theory, this study argues that support for President Trump is a result of the “politics of status,” and support for the President thus represents an enthymeme. The key finding is that agreement with online hate material is indeed positively associated with support for the President. In addition, the study found that one’s differential location in the social structure, online and off-line social bonds, and attitudes toward norm violations are associated with agreement with online extremist content. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: February 1, 2020