Panel 9.3 Covid-19, Populism and Conspiracy Theories: Dynamics and Challenges in Europe
Focusing on the recent Covid-19 pandemic, this panel aims to explore the conspiratorial positions in the European context.
In the contemporary health crisis, fears and threats have become a fertile ground for new and old imaginaries of conspiracies. Moreover, recent studies show a strong relationship between conspiratorial beliefs and populist attitudes, above all, regarding seeing the people as victims at elites’ hands. Indeed, the rapid growth of populist political parties around Europe in the last decades has coincided with the simultaneously expanded spread of conspiracy theories, showing how populists apply them to promote their policies and support for their parties.
Conspiracy represents a rising key role in the European political background. Such increase is also because the EU itself is often observed as a technocratic conspiracy. Most essential studies have focused on the relationship between conspiracy theories and misinformation, ideologies, populism and partisanship. Other research, however, has focused on relationships with individuals, such as the self-social image, social status, income, trust in politics, and biases against further or political alienation.
Furthermore, other approaches have highlighted the direct and indirect consequences of conspiracy on institutional trust and political participation.
More generally, this can produce an extremisation process within political contexts and high political polarisation, both as state and process eroding trust in the democratic system.
In this context, Europe is described in a dystopian image and blamed for creating crises, such as refugee issues, Greek debt, Brexit or the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the last years, political disciplines have increased attention worldwide on the relationship between populism and conspiracy, developing relevant empirical perspectives. Recent studies have improved methodological approach, basing most of the contemporary research on quantitative methodologies, such as analysis of opinion surveys or big data, but finding a new exciting application in the qualitative approach, such as interviews and participant observations.
This panel explores new perspectives to improve general knowledge of populism and conspiracy into the recent health crisis. For this reason, European comparative and single-case studies anchored to solid methodological and theoretical perspectives are welcome.
Chairs: Marino De Luca, Paul Taggart
Deadline: 17 May 2021
Check the list of available panels here
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