From the French Revolution to the contemporary Covid-19 pandemic, via interethnic violence in India and such sectarian movements as the People’s Temple, this paper will aim to show how conspiracy theories, defined as “the conviction that a secret and omnipotent group or individual, operating on the margins of society, secretly controls the political and social order, either partially or entirely” (Fenster), contribute to defiance of the political, media and scientific authorities as well as fulfilling a function of mobilising a community which, either justifiably or otherwise, feels itself threatened socially or symbolically. As a form of proto-politicisation and “stigmatised knowledge” (Barkun), conspiracy theories, in competition with or for lack of official or scientific discourse, provide symbolically reassuring alternative explanations insofar as they give meaning to unstructured situations and social uncertainties.
Doctor of Political Science, University of Tours/PRIM. For more than 10 years, Julien Giry’s research has largely focused on the study of the various aspects (political, historical, sociotechnical, in popular culture, etc.) of conspiracy theorists, their social actors (conspiracy theory leaders, citizen investigators, scapegoats, “anti-conspiracist” activists, etc.), and such related phenomena as rumours, urban legends and fake news. He is also interested in the study of populist and extreme right movements in the United States and Europe. More recently, he has turned his attention to radicalisation phenomena and “alterscience”, in its claim to dispute established scientific knowledge, in particular with regard to vaccination and vaccines, to the point of becoming a genuine political resource for marginal actors in the field of power.
“Les fake news comme concept de sciences sociales. Essai de cadrage à partir de quelques notions connexes : rumeurs, théories du complot, propagande et désinformation”, Questions de communication, no.38, 2021.
“Conspiracism. Archaeology and Morphology of a Political Myth”, Diogenes, Sage vol.62, no.3-4, 2020.
With Pranvera Tika, “Conspiracy Theories in Political Science and Political Theory. An Introduction” in Peter Knight, Michael Butter (eds.), The Routledge Handbook on Conspiracy Theories, London: Routledge Publishers, 2020.
With Dogan Grüpinar, “Functions and Uses of Conspiracy Theories in Authoritarian Regimes” in Peter Knight, Michael Butter (eds.), The Routledge Handbook on Conspiracy Theories, London: Routledge Publishers, 2020