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Italian Uprising from Covid Skepticism to Societal Polarization

This is chapter 17 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

Italy was among the hardest-hit EU countries during the first wave of the pandemic and one of the most effective in conducting the vaccination campaign. Health measures adopted by the government are particularly restrictive compared with other countries. As a result, different forms of criticism and discontent arose at the social level, including, at the most extreme degree, belief in conspiracy theories. While most of these theories are shared in many Western European countries and the United States, some specificities characterize the Italian conspiracist milieu, such as the belief in the alleged persecution against Southern-EU countries, doubly hit, throughout the years, by both austerity politics and extremely restrictive health measures. Governmental and media reactions, which tend to assimilate conspiracist and critical stances into a homogeneous subversive movement, share some of the features of conspiracism itself – namely dualism, secrecy, and intentionality – thus increasing societal polarization.

Vergnano, Cecilia. “Italian Uprising from Covid Skepticism to Societal Polarization.” Covid Conspiracy Theories in Global Perspective, edited by Michael Butter and Peter Knight, Routledge, New York, NY, 2023, pp. 236–251.

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