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Alt. Health Influencers: how wellness culture and web culture have been weaponised to promote conspiracy theories and far-right extremism during the pandemic

Baker, S.A. ORCID: 0000-0002-4921-2456 (2022). Alt. Health Influencers: how wellness culture and web culture have been weaponised to promote conspiracy theories and far-right extremism during the pandemic. European Journal of Cultural Studies, doi: 10.1177/13675494211062623

Abstract

This article examines the proliferation of alt. health influencers during the COVID-19 pandemic. I analyse the self-presentation strategies used by four alt. health influencers to achieve visibility and status on Instagram over a 12-month period from 11 March 2020, when the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organisation. My analysis reveals the ways in which these influencers appeal to the utopian discourses of early web culture and the underlying principles of wellness culture to build and sustain an online following. While early accounts of micro-celebrity treat participatory culture as democratising and progressive, this article demonstrates how the participatory affordances of social media have been exploited to spread misinformation, conspiratorial thinking and far-right extremism. These findings develop previous work on ‘conspirituality’ by demonstrating how wellness culture and web culture can coalesce for authoritarian ends.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: conspiracy theories, conspirituality, COVID-19, disinformation, far-right, influencers, micro-celebrity, misinformation, purity, wellness culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR180 Immunology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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