Popular conspiracy theories, like those about JFK, the attacks of 9/11, the death of Princess Diana or the swine flu vaccination, are generally depicted in the social sciences as pathological, irrational and, essentially, anti-modern. In this contribution it is instead argued that conspiracy culture is a radical and generalized manifestation of distrust that is embedded in the cultural logic of modernity and, ultimately, produced by processes of modernization. In particular, epistemological doubts about the validity of scientific knowledge claims, ontological insecurity about rationalized social systems like the state, multinationals and the media; and a relentless 'will to believe' in a disenchanted world - already acknowledged by Adorno, Durkheim, Marx and Weber - nowadays motivate a massive turn to conspiracy culture in the West.

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doi.org/10.1177/0267323111433566, hdl.handle.net/1765/71104
European Journal of Communication
Department of Sociology

Aupers, S. (2012). Trust no one: Modernization, paranoia and conspiracy culture. European Journal of Communication, 27(1), 22–34. doi:10.1177/0267323111433566