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Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them$
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Joseph E. Uscinski

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190844073

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190844073.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 19 April 2021

On the Democratic Problem of Conspiracy Politics

On the Democratic Problem of Conspiracy Politics

(p.111) 7 On the Democratic Problem of Conspiracy Politics
Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them

Alfred Moore

Oxford University Press

Distrust is an essential part of democratic politics. Familiar institutions and practices, such as the separation of powers, partisan competition, and public vigilance, are premised on a positive expectation that others intend to harm our interests. Such practices can organize and domesticate distrust, and make it productive for the democratic system. Yet distrust can go wrong in two sorts of ways. One is through partisan distrust spiraling into what I call conspiracy politics as a result of the process of seeking to represent conspiracy-minded constituents. The other is that public vigilance premised on distrust can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, generating the behavior that fulfills those low expectations.

Keywords:   conspiracy theory, conspiracy politics, trust, distrust, partisanship, vigilance, democracy

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