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Science denialism and conspiracy theories in the official communication of the Brazilian government during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • In the second decade of the 21st century, far-right ideas and groups have made themselves present and active in politics in the west, even winning local and national elections in some countries, such as the United States, Brazil and Hungary. While having specific ideological and cultural differences in its many forms in different countries, the far-right movement on an international scale has proven to be similar in its core and tactics. This new-born far-right is in essence populist, defends conservative values, and navigates in what in popular use - and to some extent in academic discourse - is called post-truth politics. The concept of post-truth politics can be summarized as an increasing disregard to factual evidence in political discourse and decision-making. As the term “post-truth” suggests, facts regarding what is in discussion and the opinion of experts are secondary, if important at all, in comparison to emotional aspects being communicated. The condition for the success of the message is its appeal to the listener’s beliefs and values. Given this conjecture, conspiracy theories and science denialism can be powerful rhetorical tools in political discourse. A politician who constantly communicates using these tactics is Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Since before he was elected, the then candidate had always been heavily present in social media and been accused of spreading disinformation and fake news on his online profiles, which continued during his term. As the Covid-19 pandemic started, the executive organ of the Brazilian government minimized the importance and gravity of the situation in disregard to the orientation of the massive majority of the scientific community. In October 2021 Brazil reached over 600.000 deaths by COVID since the beginning of the pandemic, according to official data, which makes the country the 7th on the ranking of deaths per million. This thesis aims to, firstly, discuss the interaction and causes of the rise of the far-right, post-truth politics, social media and the communication of conspiracy theories and science denialism in political discourse in general, but also to go deeper in the Brazilian context, in order to understand the events that lead to President Bolsonaro’s election, his ideology, rhetoric and communication. The second goal of this thesis is to identify conspiracy theories and science denialism in the official communication of the Brazilian government in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic; classify the content according to the structure of conspiracy theorization and science denialism; and analyze these findings within the scope of interactions described in the first part of the thesis. The third goal of this thesis is to discuss the findings of the second part and the outcomes (deaths, vaccination rate and willingness, adoption and disrespect of public health measures) of the pandemic in Brazil so far and to suggest topics for further research.

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Metadaten
Author:Daniel Ribeiro de Mattos Helou Luccas
Document Type:Master's Thesis
Year of first Publication:2022
Date of final exam:2022/04/04
First Referee:Claudia FrickGND
Advisor:Amelie Duckwitz
Degree Program:Markt- und Medienforschung
Language:English
Page Number:92
Tag:Jair Bolsonaro; extreme right; far right; post-truth; science denialism
GND Keyword:Pandemie; Rechtsradikalismus; Verschwörungstheorie
Institutes:Institut für Informationswissenschaft der TH Köln
Access Rights:Zugriffsbeschränkt
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen