Strategic Conspiracy Narratives: A Semiotic Approach

Strategic Conspiracy Narratives proposes an innovative semiotic perspective for analysing how contemporary conspiracy th

762 61 15MB

English Pages 73 Year 2021

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Strategic Conspiracy Narratives: A Semiotic Approach

Citation preview

Madisson and Ventsel cover a timely and wgent topic from a neglected perspective. They relevantly add to the existing literature and spur further aeuate. Deeply grounded in semiotic theory (the "school of Tartu"), their book makes an effort to keep distance and balance in relation to a thorny subject. semiotics provides a more equilibrate understanding about the nature of conspirary theories, concentating more on the discursive aspect than on ttre political one. Conspiracy theories will be, unfortunately, more and more present in the public debate, as well as in cyberwarfare; Madisson and ventsel praiseworthily pave the way to the academic study of this



Professor Massimo Leone, (Jniversity of rurin, Italy

Mari-Liis Madisson and Andreas Ventsel have produced an excellent and timely book. This will be required reading for anyone wanting to under-

standconspiracy narratives and to develop innovative ways to analyse how they circulate online. Drawing on semiotics and strategic narrative theory, Madisson and ventsel present a compelling analytical framework which they apply to thet empirical analysis of strategic conspiracy narratives invitving investor and philanthropist George Soros. Highly recommended. Professor Alister Miskimmon, Queen's University Belfast, UK


Strategic Conspiracy Narratives

Strategic Conspiracy Narratives proposes an innovative semiotic perspective for analysing how contemporary conspiracy theories are used for shaping interpretation paths and identities

ofa targeted audience.

Conspiracy theories play a significant role in the viral spread of misinformation that has an impact on the formation of public opinion about certain topics. They allow the connecting of different events that have taken place in various times and places and involve several actors that seem incompatible to bystanders. This book focuses on strategic-function conspiracy narratives in the context of (social) media and information conflict. It explicates the strategic a devices in how conspiracy theories can be used to evoke a hermeneutics of suspicion permanent scepticism and questioning of so-called mainstream media channels and dominant public authorities, delegitimisation of political opponents, and the ongoing search for hidden clues and coverups. The success of strategic dissemination of conspiracy naratives depends on the cultural cootext, specifics ofthe targeted audience and the semiotic construction ofthe message. This book proposes an innovative semiotic perspective for analysing contemporary strategic communication. The authors develop a theoretical fiamework that is based on the


semiotics of culture, the notions of strategic narrative and transmedia storytelling. This book is targeted to specialists and graduate students working on social theory, semiotics, joumalism, stategic communication, social media and contemporary social problems in general. received her PhD in Semiotics and Culture Studies from the University 2016. She is a Research Fellow at the Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu and a visiting Research Fellow at School of History, Anthropology' Philosophy and Politics at the Queen's University Belfast, UK. Her research combines cultural semiotics, political semiotics, communication and media studies. Her research interests lie in online culture, conspiracy theories, information influence activities and extneme right communication. She is the author of The Semiotic Construction of ldentities in Hypermedia Enyironments: The Analysis of Online Communication of the Estonian Extreme Right (2016).

Meri-Liis Madisson of Tarnr, Estonia in

Andreas Ventsel is a senior researcher of semiotics at Tartu University, Estonia. He holds an MA degree and a PhD in Semiotics. He teaches a range of subjects in semiotics, society and theory, and research seminars. His research is interdisciplinary, which politics, -includes cultural semiotics, discourse theory, visual communication, rhetoric and political analysis with particular focus on post-structural political thought. Since 2007, Ventsel has participated

several research projects in the fields of semiotics, visual studies and strategic communication. He has presented the results ofresearch on these topics in around 100 aca' demic articles and has been the editor of several Estonian-based and intemational scientific joumals. He is the author of Towards Semiotic Theory of Hegenony (2009)'


Conspiracy Theories

Series Editors: Peter Knight, University of Manchester, and Michael Butter, University of Tübingen.

Strategic Conspiracy Narratives A Semiotic Approach

in all modern societies. However, their visibility and significance are increasing today. Conspiracy theories can no longer be simply dismissed as the product of a pathological mindset located on the political margins. This series provides a nuanced and scholarly approach to this most contentious of subjects. It draws on a range of disciplinary perspectives including political science, sociolory, history, media and cultural studies, area Conspiracy theories have a long history and exist

Mari-Liis Madisson and Andreas Ventsel

studies and behavioural sciences. Issues covered include the psychology of conspiracy theories, changes in conspiratorial thinking over time, the role of the Internet regional and political variations, and the social and political impact of conspiracy theories. The series will include edited collections, single-authored monographs and short-form books.

The Stigmatization of Conspiracy Theory since the 1950s "A Plot to Make us Look Foolish" Katharina Thalmann

Conspiracy Theories in Turkey Conspiracy Nation

Do[anGürptnar Routledge Handbook of Conspiracy Theories Edited by Michael Butter and Peter Knight Contemporary Conspiracy Culture Truth and Knowledge in an Era of Epistemic Instability Jaron Harambam

Strategic Conspiracy Narratives A Semiotic Approach Mari-Liis Madisson and Andreas Ventsel

El f,\





First published 202l by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Parh Abilgdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New Yorlg



Rattledge is an imprint ofthe Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business

@2D2lMui-Läs Madisson

and Andreas Ventsel

The right of Mari-Liis Madisson and Andreas Venbel to be identified as authors ofthis work has been asserted by them in accordance with sections 71 andl8 ofthe Copyrigh! Designs and Patents Act 1988.


rights reserved. No part ofthis book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafüer invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or rehieval systenr" without permission in writing fiom the publishers.



Trademark notice: Produot or corporate names may be tademarks or registered tademarks, and are used only for identific*ion and explandion without intent to infringe.

x 1

Determining the theoretical fr amework 2 The structure of the book 4

British Library C ataloguing-in-Publicati on Data

A catalogue record for this book is available &om the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Madissoq Mari-Liis, 1988 - author. I Ventsel, Andreas, 1976



Title: Stategic conspiracy narratives: a semiotic approach/Mari-Liis Madisson and Andreas Venbel. Description: Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon; New Yod