Jaron Harambam, PhD candidate, Centre for Rotterdam Cultural Sociology (CROCUS), Department of Sociology, Erasmus University Rotterdam

'The Truth is Out There': Conspiracy Theories in an Age of Epistemic Instability

Conspiracy theories are extremely popular: millions of people in the western world no longer trust epistemic authorities (such as science, media and politics) and resort to conspiracy theories to account for what “actually” happens out there. Conspiracy theories are formulated about the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and in Paris, but also feature in popular culture: films, books and TV- series like The Matrix, The Da Vinci Code, or The X-Files. Although conspiracy culture is increasingly at the center of our western societies, our sociological understanding of it remains limited by its consistent pathologization in and outside academia. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the Dutch conspiracy milieu and following a cultural sociological approach, I will explain in this lecture what contemporary conspiracy theories are about, which people are involved in the milieu, what they believe and what they actually do with these ideas in their everyday lives. In conclusion, I will sociologically explain why so many people have affinity with conspiracy theories nowadays.

Jaron Harambam works at the Rotterdam Centre for Cultural Sociology of the Erasmus University Rotterdam and will defend his PhD thesis on conspiracy culture in the Netherlands in October 2017. Jaron was a Visiting Fellow at Northwestern University near Chicago, US (2015) and he has published on conspiracy culture, digital culture and online games in international journals like Cultural Sociology (2016), Public Understanding of Science (2015), Information, Communication and Society (2013) and European Journal of Cultural Studies (2011). He is editor of the Dutch peer-reviewed journal Sociologie where he co-edited a special issue on actor-network theory (2014).

All seminars in the series.