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Conspiracy Theories and the Polarized Polish Press : Systemic and Event Conspiracy Narratives in Polish Daily Newspapers during the Presidential Election Campaign in 2020

Author

  • Olivia Rachwol

Summary, in English

This master’s thesis takes its cue from Polish sociologist Franciszek Czech (2019), who argued that the saturation of Polish magazines with conspiracy narratives suggests a deep polarization of the Polish society on a political level. Systemic and event conspiracy narratives frequently featured in media outlets both associated with the ruling Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS) and its opposition Platforma Obywatelska (PO) as the PiS’ biggest opponent. Conspiracy theories can create doubt about political opponents and their integrity and unfold a considerable danger to democracy. Although PiS, which in English translates to Law and Justice,
and PO, also known as Civic Platform, are both conservative parties, most of the Poles usually end up favoring one over the other as the PO is liberal conservative while the PiS is national conservative. Regular public contestation between these two influential parties has provoked the Polish people to further divide into two main blocs. This trend has affected the
political atmosphere in Poland in a way that has further propelled political polarization in the domestic sphere, with conspiracy theories and suspicion toward one another being one of its symptoms. To complement previous studies that have focused on weekly magazines, this study has investigated the construction of articles with partisan conspiracist content through the lens of Shenhav’s Social Narrative Analysis.
This study focuses on four different popular daily newspapers: the opinion-forming liberalleft Gazeta Wyborcza, the right-wing Gazeta Polska Codziennie, and the two influential tabloids Fakt and Super Express.
The analysis shows how political tensions have been played out in systemic and event conspiracy theories in Polish mainstream media before the presidential elections in spring 2020.
It could be proven that newspapers associated with either one of the two political power blocs have engaged in a further division between liberals and conservatives by disseminating partisan conspiracy narratives before the presidential election.

Department/s

Publishing year

2021

Language

English

Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)

Topic

  • Cultural Sciences

Keywords

  • Poland
  • Conspiracy Theories
  • Conspiracy Narratives
  • Narrative Analysis
  • political parties
  • Polish media coverage

Supervisor

  • Tomas Sniegon