Structures of Bias: How the State Systematically Downplays Right-Wing Extremism

Jonathan Homola, Assistant Professor of Political Science at UCLA, discusses the rise of right-wing extremism and his forthcoming publication.

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The Center for European and Russian Studies held a talk by Jonathan Homola to discuss his forthcoming publication Structures of Bias: How the State Systematically Downplays Right-Wing Extremism (co-authored with Jeyhun Alizade and Rafaela Dancygier).

About the Talk

The rise of right-wing extremism (RWE) is often attributed to citizens' economic and cultural grievances. We know less about how the state facilitates RWE in contemporary democracies, despite commonly voiced claims that state actors help RWE flourish due to their biased treatment of political extremism. How valid is this critique? Analyzing thousands of documents covering the behavior of political parties, intelligence agencies, and the police in Germany over many decades and across states, we demonstrate that state actors have systematically downplayed RWE. This bias is not a feature of the state per se; it only emerges consistently among center-right actors. Partisanship thus biases how even presumptively neutral state actors address the far-right extremist threat, a bias that we find exists even in the absence of strategic electoral considerations. Taken together, our research demonstrates that the very state actors charged with fighting extremism are highly influenced by partisanship and ideology.

About the Speaker

Jonathan Homola is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science. Most of his research deals with questions of representation and electoral preferences. More specifically, his work mostly falls into two main fields of interest: i) xenophobia and (support for right-wing) extremism, and ii) gender and politics. Jonathan’s regional areas of expertise are Western democracies and Eastern Europe. His research has been published in outlets such as the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, Political Analysis, the British Journal of Political Science, and Comparative Political Studies. Jonathan received his BA from Freie Universität Berlin, an MRes from the University of Essex, and his PhD from Washington University in St. Louis.