The subproject “Right-Wing Populist Conspiracy Discourse in Social Networks” investigates the intersection between conspiracy and right-wing populist discourses, specifically in the contemporary German context.

Conspiracy theories are frequently deployed by fringe political actors that aim to undermine political institutions and boost their own claims to legitimacy. Conspiracy theories relating to controversial political issues appear to activate supporters of various causes by tapping into strong emotions, such as alienation, fear and resentment (Hameleers, 2021). It therefore seems desirable to develop computational tools for the detection and measurement of the prevalence of such ideas in online environments (e.g. Gründl, 2020, for right-wing populism). For the study of large datasets taken from Twitter and Facebook, a novel computational dictionary was developed within the scope of this project. Two sets of methods drawn from the toolkit of the text-as-data approach are employed. The first set of methods combines theoretical considerations and manual annotation with automated procedures for creating, expanding, cleaning and optimizing the dictionary. In this process, the dictionary is also divided into categories the literature supports, such as anti-elitism, antisemitism or a vocabulary of exposure and revelation. The second set of tools is used to apply the dictionary and interpret the results of this application to demonstrate the dictionary’s usefulness for research purposes. This project is further supported by two workshops carried out over duration of the project, to which external experts are invited. The results will be published.

Further Information & Contact

University of Bremen
Cornelius Puschmann
Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI)
Linzer Straße 6
28359 Bremen

University of Basel
Hevin Karakurt
Department of German Studies
Spalenberg 65
4051 Basel

University of Basel
Nicola Gess
Department of German Studies
Nadelberg 4
4051 Basel

University of Basel
Oliver Nachtwey
Department of Sociology
Petersgraben 27
4051 Basel

Selected Publications

Nicola Gess: Halbwahrheiten. Zur Manipulation von Wirklichkeit. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz 2021. Link
Gess, Nicola: "Half-Truths. On an Instrument of Post-Truth Politics", in: Ben Carver, Dana Crăciun, Todor Hristov (eds.): Plots: Literary Form and Cultures of Conspiracy. London: Routledge (in press).
Gess, Nicola: "Versuch über die Halbwahrheit", in: Matíaz Martínez, Katharina Rennhak, Michael Scheffel, Roy Sommer, Antonius Weixler, (eds.): Postfaktisches Erzählen. Berlin: De Gruyter (in press).
Nachtwey, Oliver; Heumann, Maurits: "Regressive Rebellen und autoritäre Innovatoren: Typen des neuen Autoritarismus", in: Klaus Dörre, Hartmut Rosa, Karina Becker, Sophie Bose und Benjamin Seys (ed.): Große Transformation? Zur Zukunft moderner Gesellschaften. Wiesbaden: Springer 2019, pp. 435-453. PDF
Nachtwey, Oliver; Jörke, Dirk (eds.): Das Volk gegen die (liberale) Demokratie. Die Krise der Repräsentation und neue populistische Herausforderungen. Baden-Baden: Nomos 2017 (=Leviathan. Special Issue 32).
Nachtwey, Oliver: Die Abstiegsgesellschaft. Über das Aufbegehren in der regressiven Moderne. Berlin: Suhrkamp 2016.
Nachtwey, Oliver: "PEGIDA, politische Gelegenheitsstrukturen und der neue Autoritarismus", in: Karl-Siegbert Rehberg, Franziska Kunz und Tino Schlinzig (eds.): PEGIDA – Rechtspopulismus zwischen Fremdenangst und "Wende"-Enttäuschung? Berlin: Transcript 2016, pp. 299-312. PDF
Nachtwey, Oliver: "Pegida und das marktkonforme Ressentiment", in: Wolfgang Benz (ed.): Fremdenfeinde und Wutbürger. Verliert die demokratische Gesellschaft ihre Mitte? Berlin: Metropol 2016, pp. 135-150.
Puschmann, Cornelius; Bastos, Marco Toledo; Schmidt, Jan-Hinrik: "Birds of a Feather Petition Together? Characterizing E-Petitioning Through the Lens of Platform Data", in: Information, Communication & Society 20/2 (2017), pp. 203-220. Text
Puschmann, Cornelius; Ausserhofer, Julian; Maan, Noura; Hametner, Markus: "Information Laundering and Counter-Publics: The News Sources of Islamophobic Groups on Twitter", in: The Workshops of the Tenth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media Proceedings, AAAI Technical Report WS-16-19, pp. 143-150. Text
Puschmann, Cornelius; Scheffler, Tatjana: "Topic Modeling for Media and Communication Research: A Short Primer", HIIG Discussion Paper Series 05 (2016). Text