Authors: Meg Roser, Charlotte Chalker and Tim Squirrell
Published: 30 January 2023
The term ‘incel’ has become widespread in both internet culture and, increasingly, mainstream discourse. Questions about who incels are, what beliefs they hold, and whether they should be considered a violent threat, have become subjects of debate. Incels themselves, increasingly de-platformed from mainstream social media, have sought to repair their reputation, pushing back against what they consider to be unreasonable associations between their community and multiple incidents of mass violence. This report examines one such effort, the incel Wiki, which was founded and is run by self-identified incels. The report uses qualitative analysis to scrutinise how the Wiki attempts to present itself as an authority on incels, and how it struggles to reconcile the purposes of providing an objective insight into incel beliefs, convincing visitors of those beliefs’ accuracy, and fostering a shared sense of incel identity.
Meg Roser is a MA Modern and Contemporary Writing student at UEA. She graduated from Lancaster University with a First in English Literature and Creative Writing, where she wrote her dissertation on the relationship between food, desire, and religious faith in the works of Beckett and Crace. She is particularly interested in representations of suffering, religion and bodies in modern literature, and her paper on resistance in pre-1900 American literature was recently published in the LUX undergraduate journal of literature and culture.
Charlotte Chalker is a student at Lancaster University, where she studies and is writing her dissertation on the relationship between motherhood constructions and working mothers’ experiences of COVID-19. She will graduate with a BA in Politics and Sociology, continuing her interests in motherhood and education into the future.
Dr Tim Squirrell is ISD’s Head of Communications and Editorial. He has previously worked for the UK government as a Senior Strategic Communications and Policy Advisor, focusing on right-wing and misogynist extremism and terrorism, as well as nonideological threats. He holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where he wrote his thesis on the construction of authority and expertise in online communities. His work has been published in outlets including VICE, The Independent, and the New Statesman.
Special thanks to Jordan Austin, Katy Shenton, Georgia Harris, Zanna Ashton and Javier Bordon Osorio, who contributed to earlier versions of this report.