Cookies?
Library Header Image
LSE Theses Online London School of Economics web site

Advers(ary) effects? Investigating the purportedly disabling character of conspiracy theory via analysis of the communicative construction of resistance discourses in online anti-New World Order conspiracy theory discussion forums.

Mager, Alexander (2015) Advers(ary) effects? Investigating the purportedly disabling character of conspiracy theory via analysis of the communicative construction of resistance discourses in online anti-New World Order conspiracy theory discussion forums. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

[img]
Preview
Text - Submitted Version
Download (5MB) | Preview

Abstract

This thesis examines how resistance is thought about and discussed within the discursive framework of the New World Order (NWO) conspiracy theory. The literature on conspiracy theories has tended to ignore or even reject the notion that conspiracy theory can be associated with political resistance; it is typically characterised as an individual, intellectual and more or less irrational puzzle-solving endeavour. Furthermore, conspiracy theory has been proposed by its very nature to be disabling (Fenster 1999: xv) and that in the face of a totalising, malevolent global conspiracy, “there is nothing you can do” (Basham 2003: 100). Such admittedly plausible conjectures are largely unsupported by empirical research, and so this thesis seeks to assess the credibility of these claims via a richly detailed discourse analysis of online conspiracy theory discussion forums. I define ‘resistance discourse’ in terms of perceived agency, specifically via discursive constructions of power and morality, across three social groups: heroes, villains and potential supporters. I further propose that these anti-NWO resistance discourses can be analysed in the same way as those of a social movement, and I employ Melucci’s (1989; 1996) concepts of ‘action system’, ‘ideology’ and ‘communicative construction’ to analyse the ways in which perceptions of agency are played out and interact with each other within online conversations. Firstly in cognitive terms, relating to perceptions of the efficacy of any proposed resistance strategy, and secondly in affective terms in relation to whether or not the resistance discourse can be interpreted as empowering or disabling. The primary contribution of the thesis is not the trivially simple demonstration that conspiracy theory can be associated with imagining political resistance. Rather its objective is to demonstrate that the discursive form the conspiracy theory takes, particularly in relation to constructions of the adversary’s power and morality, can result in dramatic discursive shaping and constraining influence on what kinds of strategies of resistance can be conceived, along with the extent to which they are presented as either disabling or empowering.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Alexander Lee Mager
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Slater, Donald
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3285

Actions (login required)

Record administration - authorised staff only Record administration - authorised staff only

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics