The Great Reset and the Cultural Boundaries of Conspiracy Theory

Michael Christensen, Ashli Au


“The Great Reset” is a conspiracy theory that has become popular among people resisting public health recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The name comes from the 2021 theme of the World Economic Forum’s annual summit and claims that global elites have manipulated the course of the pandemic to implement various forms of economic and social control. While the conspiracy is easily debunked, we argue that it also reflects important cultural trends at the heart of the current epistemic crisis. Our study adopts a theoretical approach that frames conspiracy theories as cultural expressions of social problems. We conducted a qualitative analysis of media content shared on Twitter related to the nascent campaign #StopTheGreatReset. We found that Great Reset narratives not only relied on traditional conspiracy tropes but also reflected a newer and concerning anti-institutional discourse that expressed social anxiety about the pandemic as a form of antidemocratic politics.


conspiracy theory, culture, COVID-19, social media, democracy

Full Text: