Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality.


What makes you think you are not a conspiracy theorist? 
Gabriel Dorthe (ETH Zürich)
Marco Dell’Oca (University of California -- Davis)
Melissa Salm (Stanford University)
Janel Jett (University of Missouri)
Mariam Mauzi (UOSE)
Send message to Convenors
Combined Format Open Panel

Short Abstract:

This panel interrogates conspiracy theories as sense-making and community-building processes, and it reframes these phenomena in terms of emergent forms of public participation in socio-technical controversies.

Long Abstract:

Climate change, public health, banking systems, media outlets, and Big Tech are a few highly contested fields where the production and circulation of conspiracy theories are most observable today. In general terms, conspiracy theories often signal distrust of institutional assemblages and suspicion of authorized narratives in ongoing sociotechnical controversies (e.g. vaccines, 5G, or the fight against global warming). Yet, they are often dismissed by authorities, including many scholars, as irrational, politically toxic and distracting from more respected (familiar, conventional) forms of public dissent. This antagonistic orientation stigmatizes heterodox expressions of skepticism, obfuscates the complex rationalities behind their emergence, and contributes to further polarization in public debates. Oftentimes, “conspiracy theories” (or for that matter “disinformation”) are used as catch-all categories to simultaneously homogenize and marginalize a wide range of controversial perspectives, thus deactivating the conceptual as well as political potential to be found in their diversity.

STS is in a privileged position to make sense of conspiracy theories and to investigate the pluralization of regimes of rationality in which they are situated. This panel asks “what are conspiracy theories?” and invites panelists to critically consider how they may engender new styles of sense-making and modes of public participation in ongoing sociotechnical controversies. How do conspiracy theories construct new theoretical framings and concepts for making sense of the world or signal a broader need to do so?

This Combined Format Open Panel welcomes multimodal contributions (from traditional papers to more experimental performances) that:

a) address and explore various ways in which conspiracy theories challenge (and unsettle?) main STS approaches such as the symmetry principle or strong constructivism.

b) redefine what counts as conspiracy theory and for whom: what distinguishes a political platform for elections or an academic community struggling for recognition from a conspiracy theory?

Accepted contributions:

Session 1
Session 2