Between Post-Truth Politics and Epistemocracy: Understanding the Populist and Pseudo-Scientific Contestation of Democracy in the Digital Public Sphere
The project explores the Alternative Right – commonly known as the Alt-Right – as a multifaceted challenge to democratic values/institutions. By identifying and analyzing the Alt-Right's "regimes of critique" of democratic values and "regimes of justification" of alternatives it offers to these principles, the project pays special attention to the content of populist/ethnonational politics, anti-expertise/pseudo-scientific ideas, and conspiracy theories in Alt-Right online discourse, the cultural practices through which these narratives are disseminated to the general public, and their socio-political consequences. The project fills the gap in scholarly literature on our understanding of how everyday civic/political engagement on social media platforms – especially during an unprecedented pandemic such as Covid-19 – is promoting, legitimizing, and mainstreaming populist ideas that, in aggregate, create "epistemic cultures" that contest, criticize, and delegitimize democracy, civic values, scientific knowledge, expertise, and the rule of law. The project is based on the premise that the case of the Alt-Right gives a unique opportunity to explore how the technologically-driven intersection of the political, the everyday, and the digital is rendering post-truth politics the dominant condition in the online space, in the process reshaping data quality, misinformation/disinformation, and factual verification surrounding key socio-political problems and, ultimately, negatively affecting policy making.