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Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them$
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Joseph E. Uscinski

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190844073

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190844073.001.0001

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Why the Powerful (in Weak States) Prefer Conspiracy Theories

Why the Powerful (in Weak States) Prefer Conspiracy Theories

Chapter:
(p.347) 23 Why the Powerful (in Weak States) Prefer Conspiracy Theories
Source:
Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them
Author(s):

Scott Radnitz

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190844073.003.0023

Why do politicians promote conspiracy theories in weak states? Not simply because they or their constituents believe them. Unlike established democracies, in which politics works through institutions, in weak states, politicians need to find alternative ways of advancing their agendas. Two steps are usually necessary for conspiracy theories to become prominent in political discourse: first, national narratives about insecurity make claims of conspiracy plausible. Second, when politicians cannot keep their internal struggles secret or when unexpected events occur, they are likely to make a decisive turn toward conspiracy-tinged rhetoric. This chapter shows how these factors operate with examples from Russia, Turkey, and Afghanistan.

Keywords:   conspiracy theory, Russia, Turkey, authoritarianism, weak state

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