Mobilizations on the Internet and protests on the streets have already been showing increasing overlaps and mixtures of conspiracy theories and far-right ideologies in terms of content for several years. In times of crisis, they gain additional momentum and spread rapidly via social media. Followers of conspiracy theories and far-right actors use crises to fuel social polarization and weaken democratic societies and their institutions. The search for scapegoats through conspiracy theories and right-wing extremist ideologies makes politicians, media representatives and people of Jewish and Muslim faith, among others, a target. This happens not only through anti-democratic discourse, but also through justifications of violence and concrete acts of violence.
The aim of the new research project "Patterns and Dynamics of Conspiracy Theories and Right-Wing Extremist Ideologies in Times of Crisis" (NEOVEX) is to analyze transnational manifestations of conspiracy theories and right-wing extremist ideologies as well as their function of legitimization of violence. The project also examines the transnational networks of representatives of conspiracy theories and right-wing extremist ideologies and the spread of their messages in digital information spaces. In addition, the project focuses on how technology companies deal with conspiracy theory and right-wing extremist content.
The project started in January 2022 under the leadership of IFSH. It has a duration of three years and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with a total of 1.8 million euros. Project partners in the research network of NEOVEX are the Bavarian School of Public Policy at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society in Berlin and the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society (IDZ). At IFSH, in addition to the project leader Janina Pawelz, who is also the coordinator of the research network, Martin Kahl, Stephen Albrecht and Carolin Reichert are working on the project.