Volume 16, Issue 4
  • ISSN 1569-2159
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9862
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


This study explores how U.S. President Donald Trump employs Twitter as a strategic instrument of power politics to disseminate his right-wing populist discourse. Applying the discourse-historical approach to critical discourse analysis, this article analyzes the meaning and function of Trump’s discursive strategies on Twitter. The data consists of over 200 tweets collected from his personal account between his inauguration on January 20, 2017 and his first address to Congress on February 28, 2017. The findings show how Trump uses an informal, direct, and provoking communication style to construct and reinforce the concept of a homogeneous people and a homeland threatened by the dangerous other. Moreover, Trump employs positive self-presentation and negative other-presentation to further his agenda via social media. This study demonstrates how his top-down use of Twitter may lead to the normalization of right-wing populist discourses, and thus aims to contribute to the understanding of right-wing populist discourse online.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Anderson, Benedict
    1983Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Bartlett, Jamie
    2014 “Populism, Social Media and Democratic Strain.” InEuropean Populism and Winning the Immigration Debate, edited by Clara Sandelind , 99–116. Stockholm: Fores.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Casero-Ripollés, Andreu , Ramón A. Feenstra , and Simon Tormey
    2016 “Old and New Media Logics in an Electoral Campaign: The Case of Podemos and the Two-Way Street Mediatization of Politics.” The International Journal of Press/Politics21 (3): 378–97. doi: 10.1177/1940161216645340.
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161216645340 [Google Scholar]
  4. Engesser, Sven , Nicole Ernst , Frank Esser , and Florin Büchel
    2016 “Populism and Social Media: How Politicians Spread a Fragmented Ideology.” Information, Communication & Society, 1–18. doi: 10.1080/1369118X.2016.1207697.
    https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2016.1207697 [Google Scholar]
  5. Enli, Gunn
    2017 “Twitter as Arena for the Authentic Outsider: Exploring the Social Media Campaigns of Trump and Clinton in the 2016 US Presidential Election.” European Journal of Communication32 (1): 50–61. doi: 10.1177/0267323116682802.
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0267323116682802 [Google Scholar]
  6. Gimenez, Elsa , and Natalie Schwarz
    2016 “The Visual Construction of ‘the People’ and ‘proximity to the People’ on the Online Platforms of the National Front and Swiss People’s Party.” Österreichische Zeitschrift Für Soziologie41 (2): 213–42. doi: 10.1007/s11614‑016‑0200‑3.
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11614-016-0200-3 [Google Scholar]
  7. Gladstone, Brooke
    2017A Taxonomy of Trump Tweets. WNYC’s On the Media. AccessedMarch 22. www.wnyc.org/story/taxonomy-trump-tweets/?utm_source=sharedUrl&utm_medium=metatag&utm_campaign=sharedUrl.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Greenwood, Shannon , Andrew Perrin , and Maeve Duggan
    2016 “Social Media Update 2016.” www.pewinternet.org. November 11. www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/.
  9. Keith, Tamara
    2016 “President-Elect Trump Breaks With Long History Of Press Conferences.” NPR.org. December 15. www.npr.org/2016/12/15/505557146/president-elect-trump-breaks-with-long-history-of-press-conferences.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Kessel, Stijn van , and Remco Castelein
    2016 “Shifting the Blame. Populist Politicians’ Use of Twitter as a Tool of Opposition.” Journal of Contemporary European Research12 (2): 594–614.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. KhosraviNik, Maqjid , and Johann W. Unger
    2016 “Critical Discourse Studies and Social Media: Power, Resistance and Critique in Changing Media Ecologies.” InMethods of Critical Discourse Studies, edited by Ruth Wodak and Michael Meyer , 3rd ed., 205–33. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Krzyżanowski, Michał
    2018 “Discursive Shifts in Ethno-Nationalist Politics: On Politicisation and Mediatisation of the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in Poland” 16 (1).
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Krzyżanowski, Michał , and Ruth Wodak
    2009The Politics of Exclusion: Debating Migration in Austria. New Brunswick, N.J: Transaction Publishers.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Lakoff, George
    2016 “Understanding Trump.” George Lakoff. July 24. https://georgelakoff.com/2016/07/23/understanding-trump-2/.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Mudde, Cas
    2004 “The Populist Zeitgeist.” Government and Opposition39 (4): 541–63. doi: 10.1111/j.1477‑7053.2004.00135.x.
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1477-7053.2004.00135.x [Google Scholar]
  16. Nilsson, Bo , and Eric Carlsson
    2014 “Swedish Politicians and New Media: Democracy, Identity and Populism in a Digital Discourse.” New Media & Society16 (4): 655–71. doi: 10.1177/1461444813487964.
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444813487964 [Google Scholar]
  17. Ott, Brian L.
    2017 “The Age of Twitter: Donald J. Trump and the Politics of Debasement.” Critical Studies in Media Communication34 (1): 59–68. doi: 10.1080/15295036.2016.1266686.
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15295036.2016.1266686 [Google Scholar]
  18. Richardson, John E. , and Monica Colombo
    2014 “Race and Immigration in Far- and Extreme-Right European Political Leaflets.” InContemporary Critical Discourse Studies, edited by Christopher Hart and Cap , 521–42. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Richardson, John E. , and Ruth Wodak
    2009 “Recontextualising Fascist Ideologies of the Past: Right-Wing Discourses on Employment and Nativism in Austria and the United Kingdom.” Critical Discourse Studies6 (4): 251–67. doi: 10.1080/17405900903180996.
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17405900903180996 [Google Scholar]
  20. Taggart, Paul
    2000Populism. Buckingham: Open University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Theocharis, Yannis , Pablo Barberá , Zoltán Fazekas , Sebastian Adrian Popa , and Olivier Parnet
    2016 “A Bad Workman Blames His Tweets: The Consequences of Citizens’ Uncivil Twitter Use When Interacting With Party Candidates.” Journal of Communication66 (6): 1007–1031. doi: 10.1111/jcom.12259
    https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12259 [Google Scholar]
  22. Wodak, Ruth
    2008 “Us’ and ‘Them’: Inclusion and Exclusion-Discrimination via Discourse.” InIdentity, Belonging and Migration, edited by G. Delanty , R. Wodak , and P. Jones , 54–77. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. 2012 “Politics as Usual.” InThe Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis, edited by M. Handford and J. P. Gee , 525–40. New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. 2015The Politics of Fear: What Right-Wing Populist Discourses Mean. London: Sage. doi: 10.4135/9781446270073
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446270073 [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error