Routledge Handbook of Conspiracy Theories: 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Routledge Handbook of Conspiracy Theories

1st Edition

Edited by Michael Butter, Peter Knight


680 pages | 17 B/W Illus.

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Taking a global and interdisciplinary approach, the Routledge Handbook of Conspiracy Theories provides a comprehensive overview of conspiracy theories as an important social, cultural and political phenomenon in contemporary life.

This handbook provides the most complete analysis of the phenomenon to date. It analyses conspiracy theories from a variety of perspectives, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. It maps out the key debates, and includes chapters on the historical origins of conspiracy theories, as well as their political significance in a broad range of countries and regions. Other chapters consider the psychology and the sociology of conspiracy beliefs, in addition to their changing cultural forms, functions and modes of transmission. This handbook examines where conspiracy theories come from, who believes in them and what their consequences are.

This book presents an important resource for students and scholars from a range of disciplines interested in the societal and political impact of conspiracy theories, including Area Studies, Anthropology, History, Media and Cultural Studies, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology.

Table of Contents

Part I

Definitions and approaches


Todor Hristov, Andrew McKenzie-McHarg and Alejandro Romero Reche

1. Conceptual history and conspiracy theory

Andrew McKenzie-McHarg

2. Conspiracy theory in historical, cultural and literary studies

Peter Knight and Michael Butter

3. Semiotic Approaches to Conspiracy Theories

Massimo Leone, Mari-Liis Madison and Andreas Ventsel

4. Philosophy and conspiracy theories

Juha Räikkä
 and Juho Ritola

5. Psychoanalysis, critical theory and conspiracy theory

Nebojša Blanuša and Todor Hristov

6. Conspiracy theory as occult cosmology in anthropology

Annika Rabo

7. Sociology, social theory and conspiracy theory

Türkay Salim Nefes and Alejandro Romero Reche

8. Conspiracy theories in political science and political theory

Julien Giry and Pranvera Tika

9. Social psychology of conspiracy theory

Olivier Klein and Kenzo Nera

10. Social network analysis, social big data and conspiracy theories

Estrella Gualda Caballero

Part II

Psychological factors


Jan-Willem van Prooijen, Karen Douglas, Aleksandra Cichocka and Michał Bilewicz

1.Personality traits, cognitive styles and worldviews associated with beliefs in conspiracy theories

Anthony Lantian, Michael Wood and Biljana Gjoneska

2. Social-cognitive processes underlying belief in conspiracy theories

Jan-Willem van Prooijen, Olivier Klein and Jasna Milošević Đorđevićz

3. Motivations, emotions and belief in conspiracy theories

Karen M. Douglas, Aleksandra Cichocka and Robbie M. Sutton

4. Conspiracy theories as psycho-political reactions to perceived power

Roland Imhoff and Pia Lamberty

5. How conspiracy theories spread

Adrian Bangerter, Pascal Wagner-Egger and Sylvain Delouvée

6. Conspiracy theories and intergroup relations

Mikey Biddlestone, Aleksandra Cichocka, Iris Žeželj and Michał Bilewicz

7. Consequences of conspiracy theories

Daniel Jolley, Silvia Mari and Karen Douglas

8.Countering conspiracy theories and misinformation

Péter Krekó

Part III

Society and politics


Eiríkur Bergmann, Asbjørn Dyrendal, Jaron Harambam and Hulda Thórisdóttir

1. Who are the conspiracy theorists? Demographics and conspiracy theories

Steven M. Smallpage, Hugo Drochon, Joseph E. Uscinski and Casey Klofstad

2. Conspiracy theory entrepreneurs, movements and individuals

Jaron Harambam

3. Conspiracy theories and gender and sexuality

Annika Thiem

4. Conspiracy theories, political ideology and political behaviour

Hulda Thórisdóttir, Silvia Mari and André Krouwel

5. Functions and uses of conspiracy theories in authoritarian regimes

Julien Giry and Doğan Gürpınar

6. Conspiracy theory and populism

Eiríkur Bergman and Michael Butter

7. Radicalisation and conspiracy theories

Benjamin Lee

8. Antisemitism and conspiracism

Kjetil Braut Simonsen

9. Conspiracy theory and religion

Asbjørn Dyrendal

Part IV

Media and transmission


Stef Aupers, Dana Crăciun and Andreas Önnerfors

1. Rumours, urban legends and the verbal transmission of conspiracy theories

Anastasiya Astapova

2. Conspiracy theorising and the history of media in the eighteenth century

Andrew McKenzie-McHarg and Claus Oberhauser

3. Genres of conspiracy in nineteenth-century British writing

Ben Carver

4. Conspiracy in American narrative

Timothy Melley

5. Conspiracy theories and visual culture

Ute Caumanns and Andreas Önnerfors

6. Conspiracy theories in film and television shows

Michael Butter

7. Decoding mass media / encoding conspiracy theory

Stef Aupers

8. The Internet and the spread of conspiracy content

Simona Stano

9. Networked disinformation and the lifecycle of online conspiracy theories

Hugo Leal

10. Conspiracy theories and fake news

Kiril Avramov, Vasily Gatov and Ilya Yablokov

Part V

Histories and regions


Ilya Yablokov, Pascal Girard, Nebojša Blanuša and Annika Rabo

1.Conspiracy theories in the Roman empire

Victoria Emma Pagán

2. Conspiracy theories in the Middle Ages and the early modern period

Cornel Zwierlein

3. Freemasons, Illuminati and Jews: Conspiracy theories and the French Revolution

Claus Oberhauser

4. Conspiracy Theories in Europe during the twentieth century

Pascal Girard

5. Conspiracy theories in Putin’s Russia: the case of the ‘New World Order’

Ilya Yablokov

6. Conspiracy theories in and about the Balkans

Nebojša Blanuša

7. Conspiracy theories in Turkey

Doğan Gürpınar and Türkay Salim Nefes

8. Conspiracy theories in the Middle East

Matthew Gray

9. Conspiracy theories in Southeast Asia

Viren Swami, Hanoor Syahirah Zahari and David Barron

10. Conspiracy theories in American history

Michael Butter

11. Populism and conspiracy theory in Latin America: a case study of Venezuela

Rosanne Norris Hooper

About the Editors

Michael Butter is professor of American Studies at the University of Tübingen, Germany. He is the author of Plots, Designs, and Schemes: American Conspiracy Theories from the Puritans to the Present (2014) and The Nature of Conspiracy Theories (2020).

Peter Knight is professor of American Studies at the University of Manchester, UK. He is the author of Conspiracy Culture (2000), The Kennedy Assassination (2007) and Reading the Market (2016) and editor of Conspiracy Nation (2002) and Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia (2004).

Together they directed the COST Action COMPACT [Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theories].

About the Series

Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy theories have a long history, and exist 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 mind-set 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, sociology, history, media and cultural studies, area 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.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General