The project group consisting of Anne-Kathrin Draga, Christine Ermer, Josephine Wegner, Lea Rottenbach, Johanna Herlan, Daria Todorova, Antonia Dürr and Niklas Menge (photo, from left to right) pursued the aim of their study to examine the communication techniques of two popular opinion leaders - Attila Hildmann and Ken Jebsen, both of whom are conspicuous for their conspiratorial and partly right-wing extremist online presences.
In addition, the BA students researched how users perceive and appropriate their conspiratorial content on alternative platforms such as Telegram and KenTube.
Their study was methodologically divided into two approaches: The Telegram posts and the videos on KenTube were examined with regard to communication techniques and content with the help of a content analysis. First of all, a qualitative description of the material was made, which made it possible to comprehensively analyse the research material. In order to look at the side of the recipients, the students also worked with episodic guided interviews, which represent a middle ground between narrative interviews and open surveys.
The study showed that Attila Hildmann and Ken Jebsen can be classified as opinion leaders. The Telegram posts are often characterised by rhetorical stylistic devices such as irony or neologisms and their basic character can be classified as aggressive/ angry and denouncing. Similar enemy images, for example the established media or those in power, as well as conspiracy narratives are communicated on both channels. In addition, the interviews of the project group confirmed the assumption that users both consciously turn to the content presented and engage in follow-up communication. A predominant turning away from the so-called mainstream media and a critical attitude towards the federal government could also be confirmed.
With their study, the group "Verschwörung(s)trennt" convinced the jury this year. But also the five other projects again investigated exciting topics:
- "Bridging Research-AG": Racism Discourse in Transition? A Comparative Critical Discourse Analysis Based on the Reporting of the Racially Motivated Violent Acts of the NSU and in Hanau
- "Diversitisement": The appearance of diversity dimensions in German television advertising - a comparison over time
- "DopeFlix": How Netflix series can influence attitudes towards drugs and acquisitive crime
- "Expertise in the crisis": A multi-perspective study on the representation and impact of scientists in the coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic
- "Infodemie": News choices in the context of the COVID-19 infodemic: A subject-differentiated comparison of students in Germany
All project descriptions can be found in the brochure of the 2021 Project Forum (German only): Broschüre des Projektforums 2021
We congratulate all project applicants and especially the winners of "Verschwörung(s)trennt" for the 2021 funding award.