Mapping and Modelling Influence Interactions between Conspiracy Communities and Extremist Entities (MICE2)
The combination of the global health pandemic co-occurring and interacting with a sequence of contentious and polarised democratic events, has induced a situation where multiple social, political and technological forces have blended together to form novel radicalisation risks. One particularly pressing concern is the increase in interactions between extremists and their ideologies, and conspiracy communities and their theories, and the leadership characteristics of both groups.
This project aims to systematically investigate the causes and consequences of these new radicalisation risks by developing an empirically informed, conceptual model of the interactive influences between contemporary variants of political extremism and conspiracy theories. The study is organised around a theoretical framework designed to illuminate insights and evidence about three specific influence pathways:
- ‘Conspiracising’ political extremism: the analytic focus here will be upon how contact and exchanges with contemporary conspiracy ideas, and their adherents, have impacted upon extremist groups.
- ‘Extreming’ conspiracy communities: this strand of the project inverts the influence pathway to attend to the ways that values and ideas originating within extremist groups may be infiltrating and adapting the focus and substance of conspiratorial worldviews.
- Leadership reacting to international influencing events: the final element of the project is concerned with how leaders in both conspiracy and extremist communities have reacted to international events, to enable and encourage increased interactions and intermingling, and whether this has been a deliberate strategic process, or not.