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Revealing SchemesThe Politics of Conspiracy in Russia and the Post-Soviet Region$
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Scott Radnitz

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197573532

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197573532.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 28 January 2022

Citizen Cynics

Citizen Cynics

How People Talk and Think about Conspiracy

(p.153) 8 Citizen Cynics
Revealing Schemes

Scott Radnitz

Oxford University Press

This chapter uses focus groups in Georgia and Kazakhstan to examine not only how ordinary people respond to conspiracy theories, but how they think about power more generally. Participants were receptive to a wide range of conspiracy claims, whether promoted by governments or not. Georgians endorsed a wide array of plots and perpetrators, an openness that reflects the country’s unbridled intrigue and wealth of political information available. Kazakhstanis speculated about how power operates in their opaque political system and delivered Russian-inflected geopolitical analysis. Citizens who accepted conspiracies were motivated by cynicism toward political authority, which came from personal experience. The analysis suggests that politicians who aim to win support by claiming conspiracies face a dilemma: the people who are most willing to agree with conspiracy claims are also suspicious of those who seek advantage by spreading them.

Keywords:   conspiracy theory, focus group, Georgia, Kazakhstan, distrust, geopolitics, propaganda, cynicism, corruption

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