Are conspiracy theories for complete losers?
Conspiracy theories are not the preserve of the US: Brits are as likely – indeed perhaps marginally more – to believe at least one conspiracy theory than the Americans. This is one of the findings from a recent survey we ran with YouGov, which collected date across Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales – no Northern Ireland) on the 3rd and 4th February 2015 from a representative sample of 1749 adults. Rolf and I have written up a paper on this, which we will be presenting at a Conspiracy conference in Miami in March. We argue that the strongest explanatory factor for belief in conspiracy theories is complete political exclusion (CPE). By this we mean not simply exclusion from political power when one’s party is in opposition, or a rejection of ideology, but rather exclusion from the political system tout court: the most important indicators for conspiracy ideation are a deep distrust in all political institutions and the rejection of the political system as a whole. After these political factors come socio-economic factors: we find that working-class men are most likely to believe conspiracy theories. Finally we find that exclusion from power within the political system – i.e. being in opposition – has only a marginal impact on conspiracy theorising, although more work needs to be done on this. Geographical distance from power appears to play no role in the prevalence of conspiracy theorising: if anything Scotland is the region the least likely to return high instances of conspiracy ideation. GB respondents overwhelmingly expressed a belief in elite rule within their democracy, much higher than those who believe a secret international group actually control world affairs. This raises a methodological issue about whether questions about elite rule and secret groups are in fact measuring slightly different things – one suspicion of elites and the other conspiratorial accounts of politics proper – which are often conflated in the literature. This opens up a space within which to talk about the effects of networks of power or collusion alongside more classic conspiracy theory accounts of politics…
How to cite:
Drochon, Hugo and Fredheim, Rolf: “Complete Losers: Conspiracy Ideation and Suspicion of Elites in Great Britain”, forthcoming 2015