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Lecture | Research Seminar

CA-OS Research Seminar | Nothing Is What It Seems: Conspiracy Culture and the Social Sciences

  • Stef Aupers (Leuven University)
Monday 6 February 2017
Pieter de la Court Building
Wassenaarseweg 52

This research seminar is organised by the Institute for Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology.

'The truth is out there'. Conspiracy culture and the social sciences

Conspiracy theories, such as those about the death of JFK, attacks of 9/11, Charlie Hebdo, the origins of AIDS, or a ‘New World Order’, are immensely popular in Western societies, but are either neglected or demonized as ‘irrational’ in the social sciences.

In this presentation it will be argued that this portrayal in academia is a form of ‘boundary work’ – a quest for epistemic authority that is motivated by the similarities between both forms of knowledge: conspiracy theories are a sort of ‘pop-sociology’ – speculating about the influence of social forces, the constructed nature of reality and a global ‘power elite’  – while the social sciences, in turn, easily slide into a paranoid perspective on social life.

About the speaker: Stef Aupers

Stef Aupers is a cultural sociologist and works as professor media culture at the Institute of  Media Studies, University of Leuven in Belgium. His principal research interest is how ‘modernity’ motivates different forms of religion and (re)enchantment.

From this perspective he has published widely on topics like New Age; religion outside the churches; conspiracy culture; spirituality in business life; ICT and magic; discourses of authenticity in advertising  and ‘fantasy’ in online computer games.

His latest books are ‘Paradoxes of Individualization:  Social Control and Social Conflict in Contemporary Modernity’ (Ashgate, 2011; with Dick Houtman and Willem de Koster) and ‘Religions of Modernity: Relocating the Sacred to the  Self and the Digital’ (Brill, 2010; edited with Dick Houtman).

After the seminar there will be drinks in the Bamboo Lounge on the third floor. 

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