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Dangerous Machinery: "Conspiracy Theorist" as a Transpersonal Strategy of Exclusion
Ginna Husting and Martin Orr
Vol. 30, No. 2 (Spring 2007), pp. 127-150
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/si.2007.30.2.127
Page Count: 24
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Paranoid disorders, Terrorism, Criminal conspiracy, Social interaction, Political sociology, Political power, News media, Disclaimers, Political discourse, International conspiracies
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In a culture of fear, we should expect the rise of new mechanisms of social control to deflect distrust, anxiety, and threat. Relying on the analysis of popular and academic texts, we examine one such mechanism, the label conspiracy theory, and explore how it works in public discourse to "go meta" by sidestepping the examination of evidence. Our findings suggest that authors use the conspiracy theorist label as (1) a routinized strategy of exclusion; (2) a reframing mechanism that deflects questions or concerns about power, corruption, and motive; and (3) an attack upon the personhood and competence of the questioner. This label becomes dangerous machinery at the transpersonal levels of media and academic discourse, symbolically stripping the claimant of the status of reasonable interlocutor—often to avoid the need to account for one's own action or speech. We argue that this and similar mechanisms simultaneously control the flow of information and symbolically demobilize certain voices and issues in public discourse.
Symbolic Interaction © 2007 Wiley