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The Post-truth Narrative in Post-Smolensk Poland

Dates:
  • Mon 30 Sep 2019 11.30 - 13.30
  Add to Calendar 2019-09-30 11:30 2019-09-30 13:30 Europe/Paris The Post-truth Narrative in Post-Smolensk Poland

Long before the post-truth concept became popular, the aftermath of the Smolensk Catastrophe in Poland, in which 95 high-ranking Polish officials died in a plane accident, saw the emergence of a conspiracy-narrative of the like promoted by the Law and Justice party. In factual terms, it can be said that the Smolensk Catastrophe, was caused by the combination of pilot error and unfavourable weather conditions, as proved by a vast amount of evidence. Yet half of the public opinion in Poland disbelieves the official findings of the investigation, and half of those citizens even believe it was a premeditated assassination.

The aim of the thesis is to analyse the frames’ construction of the political reality that surrounded the case of the Smolensk Catastrophe, the plane crash that turned into a deeply political issue in Poland. The study answers the following questions: How, and in what way, have Polish politicians instrumentalised a national tragedy (in this case, the crash) to mobilise electoral support, sway voters, and define their politics? What kinds of mechanisms have affected a frame’s strength, and what is the narrative of the post-truth politics of the Smolensk crash? The Smolensk Catastrophe debate did not trigger a governmental change in Poland; yet the Smolensk Catastrophe debate has revealed something intriguing: how a shared belief in a particular conspiracy theory can play a role previously reserved for religion or ideology, in serving as an indicator of political identity.

The research questions are answered through frame analysis. The data comes from newspaper mix-method content analysis, which was conducted over a five-year period. The analyses reveal the existence of three main frames, of which one is a conspiracy frame supported by PiS, the second one is the accident frame supported by journalists, the PO-PSL government together with public officials, and the third one is the political instrument frame promulgated mostly by journalists. Ultimately, it is proved that public opinion’s support for these frames was polarised by political partisanship.

Seminar Room 3, Badia Fiesolana DD/MM/YYYY
  Seminar Room 3, Badia Fiesolana

Long before the post-truth concept became popular, the aftermath of the Smolensk Catastrophe in Poland, in which 95 high-ranking Polish officials died in a plane accident, saw the emergence of a conspiracy-narrative of the like promoted by the Law and Justice party. In factual terms, it can be said that the Smolensk Catastrophe, was caused by the combination of pilot error and unfavourable weather conditions, as proved by a vast amount of evidence. Yet half of the public opinion in Poland disbelieves the official findings of the investigation, and half of those citizens even believe it was a premeditated assassination.

The aim of the thesis is to analyse the frames’ construction of the political reality that surrounded the case of the Smolensk Catastrophe, the plane crash that turned into a deeply political issue in Poland. The study answers the following questions: How, and in what way, have Polish politicians instrumentalised a national tragedy (in this case, the crash) to mobilise electoral support, sway voters, and define their politics? What kinds of mechanisms have affected a frame’s strength, and what is the narrative of the post-truth politics of the Smolensk crash? The Smolensk Catastrophe debate did not trigger a governmental change in Poland; yet the Smolensk Catastrophe debate has revealed something intriguing: how a shared belief in a particular conspiracy theory can play a role previously reserved for religion or ideology, in serving as an indicator of political identity.

The research questions are answered through frame analysis. The data comes from newspaper mix-method content analysis, which was conducted over a five-year period. The analyses reveal the existence of three main frames, of which one is a conspiracy frame supported by PiS, the second one is the accident frame supported by journalists, the PO-PSL government together with public officials, and the third one is the political instrument frame promulgated mostly by journalists. Ultimately, it is proved that public opinion’s support for these frames was polarised by political partisanship.


Location:
Seminar Room 3, Badia Fiesolana

Affiliation:
Department of Political and Social Sciences

Type:
Thesis defence

Contact:
Maureen Lechleitner (EUI) - Send a mail

Supervisor:
Prof. Hanspeter Kriesi (EUI - Department of Political and Social Sciences)

Examiner:
Prof. Dorothee Bohle (EUI - Department of Political and Social Sciences)
Prof. Benjamin Stanley (Center for the Study of Democracy, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities)
Prof. de Vreese Claes (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Univ. Amsterdam)

Defendant:
Agnieszka Sztajdel (EUI - Department of Political and Social Sciences)
 
 

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