Defense Date

2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Tressie McMillan Cottom

Second Advisor

Jesse Goldstein

Third Advisor

Kai Bosworth

Abstract

Despite a growing interest in understanding Donald Trump’s election in 2016 as part of the historical trajectory of white racial identity politics, we do not know much about how ideas deemed “radical right” become mainstreamed. My study builds on extant research that implicates the emergence of the think tank industry by viewing one such right wing think tank as a racialized organization. My analysis focuses on the organizational strategies of the National Policy Institute (NPI). Google searches for NPI spiked in 2016 with their vocal support of Trump and visible organizing in D.C. Using Williams’ (2018) theoretical framework of organizational legitimacy and Ray’s (2019) conceptualization of the racial organization, this research examines the extent to which the NPI and their journal, The Occidental Quarterly, manage their legitimacy while also maintaining ideological loyalty to racial attitudes that are inconsistent with mainstream policy discussions. In a review of over 1,000 news mentions and Google scholar citations, as well as qualitative content analysis of selected reports and articles, this study finds the NPI employs several forms of legitimation strategies but not all of them equally. I also find that what I call citation gaming is an emerging legitimation strategy. Citation gaming involves a citational practice that leverages the infrastructure of Google Scholar and the mainstream culture of convenience citations. Together, these strategies create legitimacy for extremist ideologies that are then sanitized through new hybrid networks of white supremacist ideology that include mainstream news coverage, research organizations, and digital scholarly databases.

Rights

© Lauren C. Garcia

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

5-17-2020

Available for download on Monday, May 17, 2021

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