Online hate speech in the UK and Poland: a case-study of online reactions to the killing of Arkadiusz Jóźwik

Katerina Strani, Anna Szczepaniak-Kozak

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Our small-scale study focuses on online reactions to the killing of Arkadiusz Jóźwik in Harlow, Essex, in August 2016. It uses corpus-assisted Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to analyse tweets and below-the-line (BTL) comments of online news articles related to Jóźwik’s killing, both in English and in Polish. The dataset includes 554 posts in total, collected between 30/08/2016 and 30/08/2019. Our aim is twofold: a) to identify themes and tropes that these posts seem to follow and b) to determine whether there are any differences in the language (strategies, categorisation) used by Polish and British online posters in their reactions to this case.

We start by setting the scene and providing the wider context of Jóźwik’s killing, framing it around anti-Polish xenophobia in the UK. We continue with a discussion of online hate speech with a focus on Twitter and BTL comments, which shows a research gap in UK and Polish cyberhate studies. Contrary to definitions of hate speech as a targeted discourse, our study shows that in online discussions triggered by a specific event involving host and migrant communities, hate speech may not be exclusively related to the ethnic groups involved in the event, but directed at a homogenised Other in a reductionist way. Our results show that hate speech patterns such as ‘us and them’ distinctions, racialisation, ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ migrants, victimising the perpetrator’s (dominant) group, victim blaming, may not be relevant to the groups involved in the event but to socio-economic contexts or to the context of the online discussion.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCyberhate in the Context of Migrations
EditorsAngeliki Monnier, Axel Boursier, Annabelle Seoane
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Feb 2021

Publication series

NamePostdisciplinary Studies in Discourse
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


  • hate speech
  • Poland
  • UK
  • cyberhate
  • Online
  • CDA
  • critical discourse analysis
  • corpus-assisted
  • Twitter
  • BTL comments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics


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