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Evaluating conspiracy claims as public sphere communication

Culloty, Eileen orcid logoORCID: 0000-0001-7960-8462 (2021) Evaluating conspiracy claims as public sphere communication. Journal for Cultural Research, 25 (1). pp. 36-50. ISSN 1479-7585

Conspiracy theories have become a ubiquitous feature of contemporary culture. From a communication studies perspective, conspiracy theories undermine democratic communication by misleading the public. However, the normative concept of a democratic public sphere also upholds the values of giving visibility to diverse perspectives and facilitating reasoned debate. Thus, academics can acknowledge the harms of conspiracy claims while being open, in principle, to their potential contribution to public debate. The challenge, of course, is to evaluate the public sphere implications of conspiracy claims; implications that may be difficult to ascertain and may change over time as new evidence emerges. This position is elucidated through an analysis of the conspiracy claims found in mainstream and alternative media coverage of the Syrian conflict. Much of the debate centres on ideas about the trustworthiness and impartiality of journalists and experts whereby efforts to establish the facts are superseded by received ideas about the credibility of sources. Ultimately, the Syrian conflict indicates that conspiracy claims can be valuable for the public sphere provided there are impartial actors willing to investigate conspiracy claims and provide clarification to the public.
Item Type:Article (Published)
Uncontrolled Keywords:conspiracy theories; public sphere; digital media; Syrian War; propaganda
Subjects:Humanities > Culture
Social Sciences > Communication
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Science > School of Communications
Research Institutes and Centres > FUJO. Institute for Future Media, Democracy and Society
Publisher:Routledge (Taylor & Francis)
Official URL:https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14797585.2021.1886421
Copyright Information:© 2021 Taylor & Francis
Funders:This research received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 825227.
ID Code:25755
Deposited On:14 Apr 2021 13:04 by Eileen Culloty . Last Modified 17 Aug 2022 03:30

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