Conflicts Over Conspiracy Theories

Project: Research

Project Details


In recent years, conspiracy theories have become an important issue not only to the people who propagate them, but also to those who fear their consequences and design initiatives to push back against the ‘post-truth’ era. Perceived as a major threat to liberal democracies, they are increasingly subjected to state-led interventions. Also many NGOs are now dedicated to preventing and combating conspiracy theories. Clearly, conspiracy theories have become a highly polarizing topic. The objective of CONSPIRATIONS is to analyse this growing tension over conspiracy theories in Europe. The project proposes an innovative approach which moves beyond an exclusive focus on ‘truthers’ to examine the perspective of ‘truth defenders’ as well. This project will analyse conspiracy theory not as a standalone phenomenon, but instead as an outcome of the complicated relationship linking stakeholders who are both separated and connected by the conspiratorial divide. By expanding the scope of study from conspiracy theories to conflicts over conspiracy theories, CONSPIRATIONS will explore the possibility that the worlds of these actors are mutually constitutive. This approach goes beyond the question of who is wrong and what to do about it. Instead, it offers a deeper understanding of the conflicts themselves, which are clearly of urgent importance for contemporary Europe. That understanding in turn will provide better knowledge for tackling the damaging effects of the conspiratorial divide. An important premise of this proposal is that the answer lies not in addressing the content of the conspiracy theories themselves, but rather the kinds of conditions that give rise to them. The secondary goal is to understand how these conflicts are influenced by social contexts, and how they unfold across diverse European settings. The objectives of this project will be achieved through ethnographic case studies in Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Poland, Sweden, and EU institutions.

Funded by the European Union (ERC, CONSPIRATIONS, 101077810). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them
Effective start/end date2023/08/012028/07/31

Collaborative partners


  • European Commission - Horizon Europe

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Free keywords

  • conspiracy theories
  • Europe
  • Covid-19
  • populism
  • Poland
  • Sweden
  • Estonia
  • Germany
  • Bulgaria
  • EU
  • Belgium
  • truth