City Research Online

Meaningful disinformation: narrative rituals and affective folktales

Bastos, M. T. ORCID: 0000-0003-0480-1078 & Tuters, M. (2023). Meaningful disinformation: narrative rituals and affective folktales. Big Data & Society,


In this paper we review the epistemological boundaries of disinformation studies and argue that they are informed by network and transmission models where the unit of analysis (i.e., disinformation) is assumed to follow contagion growth patterns typical of population models. This framework reduces disinformation to a behavioral problem that downplays the participatory and ritualistic dimension of disinformation, which we argue cannot be reduced, and therefore cannot be corrected, by targeting individual behavior. We review seminal contributions to information and communication studies to foreground disinformation as de facto alternative social contracts that organize the overflow of information in meaningful narratives. We conclude by arguing that disinformation studies would benefit from tracing the resonance of narratives informed by lived experiences to achieve a higher-level principle that can negotiate conflicting realities.

Publication Type: Article
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
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Media & Communications
[thumbnail of Meaningful disinformation.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible due to copyright restrictions.


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