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Polarization and conspiracy theories : A one-way road? A discourse analysis in the context of the corona crisis.

Schmid, F.M. (2020) Polarization and conspiracy theories : A one-way road? A discourse analysis in the context of the corona crisis.

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Abstract:This bachelor thesis aims to observe polarization and its potential links to conspiracy theories within online discourse, which has evolved around the emotionally charged topic of Coronavirus. By means of a discourse analysis, Facebook comments directed to the German media platforms Die Sueddeutsche and RT Deutsch are examined. Regarding theoretical expectations set by previous literature, the data is observed for characteristics suggesting a polarized debate. Both linguistic and content-related analysis manifest the impression that the discourse on the two platforms is of very different nature. On RT, anger about ‘evil government machinations’ is vented through uncivilized language and is often based on conspiracy theory-related presumptions. Although on SZ a critical view on government measures prevails as well, it is expressed in a more differentiated way. Direct confrontation of the opposing factions gravitating towards their own clusters of truths is rare, which confirms the expected formation of filter bubbles. Ultimately, polarization appears in two contrasting, but colluding forms: Polarization through enraged apathy is associated with RT, whereas on SZ polarization through derogatory demarcation is apparent. To counteract these damaging phenomena, the government is encouraged to increase accountability for its citizens. Within discourse, a metacommunication detached from emotional conflict must be developed.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:89 political science
Programme:Management Society and Technology BSc (56654)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/82353
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