Skoči do osrednje vsebine

Political potential of conspiracy theories. A study of Poland and Slovenia

Code:

N5-0222

Period:

1.1.2022 - 31.12.2025

Range on year:

0.91 FTE | 2022

Project leader at FDV:

prof.dr. Miro Haček

Research activity:

Social sciences

The phases of the project and their realization:

The purpose of the international basic research project is to explore the political potential of conspiracy theories. From the point of view of the party system, we will be interested in whether such initiatives also gain (any) political support. In this case, we will explore the personal, social and systemic sources of their political appeal, and if their influence does not reach the sphere of mainstream politics, we will explore the reasons for not exploiting their full potential. Poland and Slovenia were chosen as research subjects due to their different political and social references, especially considering the size and social structure of both countries. Poland is the largest and Slovenia the smallest among the former socialist countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Poland is a country with a homogeneous ethnic structure, while the role of national minorities is greater in Slovenia. Finally, due to its geographical location and historical development, Poland seems to be of much greater interest to Russia, which informally supports movements based on conspiracy theories and views them as a tool for internal destabilization of countries. This will enable research, as part of which we will determine whether the identified factors enrich the existence and political influence of such movements. The research project will take place in the period from the beginning of 2022 to the end of 2025. The research will take place during the period of intense election activity both in Poland and in Slovenia, which the researchers believe will open new aspects of the research project and enable the search for answers to research questions. Elections in Slovenia were already held in 2022 (presidential, parliamentary and local) and will be also held 2024 (European Parliament); elections in Poland will be held in 2023 (parliamentary and local) and in 2024 (European Parliament). The central research question of the core project is the following: What is the political potential of conspiracy theories? Additional research questions focus on groups of hypotheses, as well as objectives arising from the nature of the research. The following important specific objectives should be mentioned: (1) What are the political outcomes of conspiracy theory movements? (2) What are the mobilization patterns of these movements that are carried out through communication channels on social networks? (3) What are the psychological profiles of members of conspiracy theory movements?

Research Organisation:

/

Researchers:

dr. Miro Haček, dr. Simona Kukovič, Tine Šteger

Citations for bibliographic records:

https://cris.cobiss.net/ecris/si/en/project/19766

Abstract:

Year 2020 was an extremely unusual period for most societies around the world due to the extremely difficult situation with the pandemic that all countries had to face. The pandemic has affected almost all areas of people's lives. The restrictions imposed on companies and individuals by governments have significantly limited constitutional civil liberties, triggered significant reactions from the perspective of the constitutional and political system, and triggered a wave of emotions related to the pandemic. New social movements have begun to emerge and reactivate existing ones that channel these emotions and provide members and supporters with the fulfilment of those needs, the satisfaction of which was basically impossible during the pandemic. The underlying research project focuses on a specific subset of these bottom-up initiatives, namely the civil society movements based on conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories are defined as explanatory beliefs about a group of actors colluding in secret to achieve malicious goals. In times of crisis, people support such theories more. This way of thinking obviously works much more successfully in situations that are difficult to rationally explain and that do not offer easy solutions. The global pandemic has activated three such groups of movements based on conspiracy theories, which we will examine in more detail in the framework of the research project: (1) anti-COVID; (2) anti-5G; and (3) opponents of vaccination. What connects all three movements is the new coronavirus. In the case of the anti-COVID movements, the appearance of the virus has sparked a wave of speculation that tackles various aspects of the pandemic, from doubts about the origin of the virus to doubts about the very existence of the virus. Research into effective vaccines and the prospect of mass (and in some cases mandatory) vaccinations have given new energy to the opponents of vaccination. The development of 5G technology has been the reason why it has been accused of causing the pandemic as such and its allegedly negative effects on health.


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