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Conspiracy Entrepreneurs, Fringe Movements, and the Pervasive Style of Conspiracy During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Case of Hungary

This is chapter 16 of the 2023 edited volume “Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories in Global Perspective”, edited by Michael Butter and Peter Knight. The entire book is available for digital open access at

This chapter explores the complexities of conspiracy theorizing during the coronavirus pandemic in Hungary. The specificity of the Hungarian case lies in the fact that while Viktor Orbán’s government relied on scientific expertise throughout the public health crisis and introduced policies aimed at containing the spread of the virus, mitigating its economic effects to a certain degree, it did not hinder them from employing a crisis discourse that pits the strenuous efforts of the Hungarian government against the malevolent machinations of international elites and internal “traitors.” While the governmental discourse increasingly became occupied with enemy construction throughout the pandemic, the epistemic instability and uncertainty brought about by the health crisis proved to be a fertile ground for alternative explanations of the virus’ nature and origin and for vaccine skepticism among the general population. Juxtaposing Viktor Orbán’s conspiracist populism with the fringe conspiracy and anti-vax milieu in Hungary, the chapter first presents the main sources and propagators of Covid- and vaccine-related conspiracy theories, scrutinizing the success of conspiracy entrepreneurs and far-right groups, and then moves on to contextualize the political climate in which such conspiracy narratives emerged, placing them against the background of populist governance and communication during the pandemic.

Turza, Lili. “Conspiracy Entrepreneurs, Fringe Movements, and the Pervasive Style of Conspiracy During the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Covid Conspiracy Theories in Global Perspective, edited by Michael Butter and Peter Knight, Routledge, New York, NY, 2023, pp. 221–235.

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