Conspiracy theories (CTs) as a topic of research have recently become more relevant to the field of Political Science. Some have argued that this is due to the increasing use of conspiracy theories in the rhetoric of populist actors but also to the role of the internet in increasing the speed of spreading CTs within more isolated groups of recipients (e.g., echo chambers, filter bubbles). In this research-oriented seminar, we will be keen to identify the (perceived) functions of the use of conspiracy theories by political actors on a domestic and international level. That is, we will aim to analyze which political actors use conspiracy theories how and – most importantly – why?
To do so, we will first read a lot (!) in the first part of the semester, providing a short overview over the state of art of the literature on who believes in and who uses conspiracy theories and why. Then, participants are asked to develop their own research questions and research projects to answer their respective question.
PLEASE NOTE: If you are interested in participating, please do realize that to benefit from the structure and outline of the course, you will need to have a good grasp of quantitative methods (even for understanding the literature) AND high levels of motivation. The estimated amount of articles to be read per session in the first part of the semester is 3 (including challenging ones), and the workload of the research part will also be beyond average. Yet, if you fulfill both conditions, the class will provide you with a substantive knowledge of the research state of art and insights into the fun of and problems associated with doing empirical research (on CTs).