Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Religions and Conspiracy Theories as the Authoritarian “Other” of Democracy?

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Abstract:  This article theorises and conceptualises the ambivalent role of religions and conspiracy theories in modern democracies. Based on a concise comparison of both phenomena, it elaborates the similar risks and functions of religions and conspiracy theories for the political community without neglecting the fact that, under secular conditions, the spread of conspiracy narratives might outweigh those of religious messages in the long run. That observation seems particularly relevant for contemporary governance and political science, as a tendency towards social anomie in the sense of Durkheim can be deduced from democratic theory, which significantly increases democracy’s need for compensatory moral and cognitive authorities.

Keywords:  anomie; authority; belief; conspiracy; democracy; disintegration; emotions; orientation; substitute religions; uncertainty



© Oliver Fernando Hidalgo. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.