Conspiracy Claims after Communism
This chapter introduces the book. It notes the rising prominence of conspiracy theories globally and argues that when governments weaponize conspiracy claims, there are important implications for democracy and stability. It explains the importance of examining conspiracy claims in their political context. The book explores the reasons that regimes make conspiracy claims, how they sustain them over time, and what effects those claims have on politics and society. The chapter then summarizes the theoretical framework and introduces the data: an original collection of over 1,500 conspiracy claims from across the former Soviet Union, two national surveys, and 12 focus groups. It discusses the definition and coding of conspiracy claims. Finally, it argues that the lessons from this book, which explain how conspiracy theories are used in a part of the world where democracy came late—or never arrived—can be instructive for concerned citizens everywhere.
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