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Conspiracy Theories in the Time of Covid-19

Conspiracy Theories in the Time of Covid-19

Peter Knight, Professor of American Studies at University of Manchester, spent a semester at NIAS in the spring of 2022 to research conspiracy theories. The resulting book has been published by Routledge.

About the book

Conspiracy Theories in the Time of Covid-19 provides a wide-ranging analysis of the emergence and development of conspiracy theories during the Covid-19 pandemic, with a focus on the US and the UK.

The book combines digital methods analysis of large datasets assembled from social media with politically and culturally contextualised close readings informed by cultural studies. In contrast to other studies which often have an alarmist take on the “infodemic,” it places Covid-19 conspiracy theories in a longer historical perspective. It also argues against the tendency to view conspiracy theories as merely evidence of a fringe or pathological way of thinking. Instead, the starting assumption is that conspiracy theories, including Covid-19 conspiracy theories, often reflect genuine and legitimate concerns, even if their factual claims are wide of the mark. The authors examine the nature and origins of the conspiracy theories that have emerged; the identity and rationale of those drawn to Covid-19 conspiracism; how these conspiracy theories fit within the wider political, economic and technological landscape of the online information environment; and proposed interventions from social media platforms and regulatory agencies.