Folk theories of info-democratic disorders: an in-depth qualitative audience study in Belgium and Luxembourg

Feb 12, 2024

The Engage team involved in EDMO BELUX is pleased to present the executive summary of the final results from its qualitative audience study on folk-theories of info-democratic disorders in Belgium and Luxembourg.

The study delves into the important issue of the reception of dis-/misinformation in democratic societies. Unlike previous research that focused on the production and spread of “fake news,” this study shifts attention to its reception, exploring how audiences in Belgium and Luxembourg make sense of the relationship between dis-/misinformation and democratic troubles.

The study employs the concept of “folk theory” to understand public understandings of dis-/misinformation. It builds on a qualitative analysis of 28 semi-directive interviews with social media users, identifying nine folk theories (and over 20 branches) related to this phenomenon.

The findings contribute to academic discussions on dis-/misinformation, media literacy, journalism, and fact-checking, as well as to ongoing reflections among practitioners about how to effectively mitigate dis-/misinformation.

The executive summary is available in four languages on the EDMO BELUX website: