Fiction and its narratives. Fake news between cultural codes and collective representations

Author/s Gianluca Maestri
Publishing Year 2019 Issue 2018/3 Language English
Pages 33 P. 93-125 File size 334 KB
DOI 10.3280/SP2018-003006
DOI is like a bar code for intellectual property: to have more infomation click here

Below, you can see the article first page

If you want to buy this article in PDF format, you can do it, following the instructions to buy download credits

Article preview

FrancoAngeli is member of Publishers International Linking Association, Inc (PILA), a not-for-profit association which run the CrossRef service enabling links to and from online scholarly content.

The purpose of this paper is to investigate fake news through the tools of cultural sociology. The paper deals with the topic of fake news focusing on their narratives and hermeneutically possibilities which arise from the meanings of alternative facts. This perspective is investigated in relation to digital practices, shared belief and the polarizations of cultural meanings, amplified and offered by the Web in an increasingly accelerated way. In order to describe it I will take as a case study the wider narrative of Pizzagate.

Keywords: Fake news; Narrative; Cultural Sociology; Cultural codes; Collective representations.

  1. Alam, H. 2016. Conspiracy peddlers continue pushing debunked “pizzagate” tale. Miami Herald, dec. 5.
  2. Alexander, J.C. 2008. Clifford Geertz and the Strong Program: The Human Sciences and Cultural Sociology. Cultural Sociology 2(2): 157-168.
  3. — 2006a. The Civil Sphere. Oxford: New York: Oxford University Press.
  4. — 2006b. Global Civil Society. Theory, Culture & Society, Vol. 23, Issue 2/3 (Mar-May), pp. 521-524.
  5. — 2006c. Performance and Power. Culture. Newsletter of the Sociology of Culture Section of the American Sociological Association. 20, 1, 1-5.
  6. — 2003. On the Social Construction of Moral Universals: The “Holocaust” from War Crime to Trauma Drama. In J. C. Alexander (Ed.), The Meanings of Social Life. A Cultural Sociology (pp. 27-84). Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.
  7. Alexander, J., Breese, E., & Luengo, M. (eds.). 2016. The Crisis of Journalism Reconsidered: Democratic Culture, Professional Codes, Digital Future. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  8. Alexander, J. C., Giesen, B. e Mast, J.L. (eds.) 2006. Social Performance: Symbolic Action, Cultural Pragmatics, and Ritual, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  9. Becker H.S. 1995. Visual sociology, documentary photography, and photojournalism: It’s (almost) all a matter of context. Visual Sociology, 10, f.1-2, 5-14.
  10. Bessi A, Zollo F, Del Vicario M, Scala A, Caldarelli G, Quattrociocchi W. 2015. Trend of Narratives in the Age of Misinformation. PloS one.10 (8).
  11. Bessi A, Coletto M, Davidescu GA, Scala A, Caldarelli G, Quattrociocchi W. 2015. Science vs conspiracy: Collective narratives in the age of misinformation. PloSone.10(2).
  12. Bonilla-Silva, E., Lewis, A. and Embrick, D.G. 2004. “I did not get that job because of a black man…”: The story lines and testimonies of color-blind racism. Sociological Forum, 19(4): 555-81.
  13. Bonnell, V. E., & Hunt, L. 1999. Introduction. In V. E. Bonnell & L. Hunt (Eds.), Beyond the Cultural Turn. New Directions in the Study of Society and Culture (pp. 1-31). Berkeley/Los Angeles/London: University of California Press.
  14. Bradner, E. 2017. Conway: Trump White House Offered “Alternative Facts” on Crowd Size,, 23 gennaio.
  15. Bronner, G. 2003. L’Empire de croyances, Paris, Puf.
  16. — 2013. La démocratie des crédules, Paris, Puf.
  17. Burton H. 2017. Tactical Virality. Real Life Magazine, apr. 24.
  18. Campion-Vincent, V. 2005. Organ Theft Legends. Jackson, University of Mississippi Press.
  19. Carr, N. 2011. The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains. WW, Norton & Company.
  20. Centola D. 2010. The spread of behavior in an online social network experiment. Science. 329 (5996):1194-1197.
  21. Cherlin, R., Fischer, R. and Horowitz, J. 2012. The 50 Most Powerful People in Washington. GQ. Jan. 18.
  22. Cole, M. 2018. Trump, the Alt-Right and Public Pedagogies of Hate and for Fascism: What Is To Be Done? London and New York, Routledge.
  23. Cramer, K.J. 2016a. For years, I’ve been watching anti-elite fury build in Wisconsin. Then came Trump. Vox. --, accessed 24 January 2017.
  24. — 2016b. The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the rise of Scott Walker. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  25. Dahlgren P. 1996. Media logic in cyberspace: Repositioning journalism and its publics. Javnost-the public. 3(3): 59-72.
  26. Daniels, J. 2018. The Algorithmic Rise of the “Alt-Right”. Contexts, 17(1), 60-65.
  27. De Certeau, M. 2007. La pratica del credere, Milano, Medusa.
  28. De Fina, A. 2003. Identity in Narrative: A Study of Immigrant Discourse. Vol. 3. Philadelphia, John Benjamins Publishing.
  29. Davies, D. 2016. Fake news expert on how false stories spread and why people believe them. NPR: Fresh Air. --
  30. Davies, W. 2016. The age of post-truth politics. The New York Times, aug. 24.
  31. Durkheim, É. 2005. Le forme elementari della vita religiosa, Roma, Meltemi.
  32. — 1973. Rappresentazioni individuali e rappresentazioni collettive, in Baracani, N. (a cura di), Educazione come socializzazione, Firenze, La Nuova Italia.
  33. Ferraris, M. 2017. Postverità e altri enigmi, Bologna, il Mulino.
  34. Fine, G.A. 2007. Rumor, trust and civil society: collective memory and cultures of
  35. judgment. Diogenes 54 (1): 5-18.
  36. Fracassi, C. 1996. Le notizie hanno le gambe corte. Guida alla lettura dell’informazione, Milano, Rizzoli.
  37. Franzosi, R. (1998). Narrative Analysis – or Why (and How) Sociologists Should Be Interested in Narrative. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 517-554.
  38. Fuchs, C. 2018. Digital Demagogue: Authoritarian Capitalism in the Age of Trump and Twitter. London, Pluto.
  39. Gili, G. 2001. Il problema della manipolazione: peccato originale dei media?. Milano, FrancoAngeli.
  40. Gillin, J. 2016. How Pizzagate went from fake news to a real problem. PolitiFact. dec. 6.
  41. Graves, L. 2016a. Boundaries Not Drawn: Mapping the institutional roots of the global fact-checking movement. Journalism Studies, 19/5, 613-631.
  42. — 2016b. Anatomy of a Fact Check: Objective Practice and the Contested Epistemology of Fact Checking. Communication, Culture & Critique. 10/3, 518-537.
  43. Guzman, T.A. 2017. The Lie of the 21st Century: How Mainstream Media “Fake News” Led to the U.S. Invasion of Iraq. Global Research. Aug./3.
  44. Habermas, J., 1988. Nachmetaphysisches Denkhen, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp Verlag.
  45. Hayes, L. 2016. The Consequences of “Pizza Gate” are Real at Comet Ping Pong. Washington City Paper, nov. 15.
  46. Hawley, G. 2018. The Alt-Right: What Everyone Needs to Know. New York, Oxford University Press.
  47. Hochschild, A.R. 2016. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. New York, New Press.
  48. Horváth, D. and Mitev, A. 2016. Memes at an Exhibition: Consumer Interpretations of Internet Memes, in P. Verlegh, H. Voorveld and M. Eisend, (eds.), Advances in Advertising Research (Vol. VI), Wiesbaden, Springer Fachmedien, 51-62.
  49. Howell L. 2013. Digital wildfires in a hyperconnected world. WEF Report. 3:15-94.
  50. Huang, G., Aisch, J., Kang, C. 2016. Dissecting the #PizzaGate Conspiracy Theories. The New York Times, dec. 10.
  51. Johnson, G. 2010. “Richard Spencer Launches Alternative Right,”. TOQ Online, Mar.2. --
  52. Kahn R, Kellner D., 2004. New media and internet activism: from the ‘Battle of Seattle’ to blogging. New media & society. 6 (1): 87-95.
  53. Kapferer, J.-N. 2013. Rumors: Uses, Interpretations, and Images. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
  54. Keyes, R. 2004. The Post-Truth Era, New York, St. Martin Press.
  55. Kimmel, M.S. 2013. Angry white men: American masculinity at the end of an era. New York, Nation Books.
  56. LaCapria, K. 2016. A detailed conspiracy theory known as “Pizzagate” holds that a pedophile ring is operating out of a Clinton-linked pizzeria called Comet Ping Pong. dec. 2.
  57. Levenson, C. 2016. Le pizzagate, dernière délirante théorie du complot anti-Clinton. Slatefr. 23 nov. 8h18. --
  58. Limburg, V.E. 1996. Etica dei media elettronici. Torino, Sei.
  59. Lorusso, A. 2018. Postverità, Roma-Bari, Laterza.
  60. Maddalena, G., & Gili, G. 2017. Chi ha paura della post-verità? Effetti collaterali di una parabola culturale. Torino, Marietti.
  61. Mitchell M. 2009. Complexity: A guided tour. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  62. Myers, T.A., Maibach, E.W., Roser-Renouf, C. and Leiserowitz, A.A. 2013. The relationship between personal experience and belief in the reality of global warming. Nature Climate Change 3(4): 343-347.
  63. Mocanu D, Rossi L, Zhang Q, Karsai M, Quattrociocchi W. 2015. Collective attention in the age of (mis) information. Computers in Human Behavior. 51:1198-1204.
  64. Mullhall, J. 2018. Holocaust denial is changing – the fight against it must change too. The Guardian, nov. 21.
  65. --
  66. Murphy, K. 2015. The Changing Role of Journalism: Embracing the Audience in the New Era. Asia Pacific Media Educator, 25(2), 146-155.
  67. Norton, M. 2011. A structural hermeneutics of The O’Reilly Factor. Theory and Society, 40(3): 315.
  68. Pariser, E. 2012. Il filtro. Quello che Internet ci nasconde. Milano, Il Saggiatore.
  69. Peiser, W., & Peter, J. 2001. Explaining Individual Differences in Third-Person Perception. Communication Research, 28(2), 156-180.
  70. Pew Research Center. 2016. News use across social media platforms 2016. 26 May 2016.
  71. Plasser, F. 2005. From Hard to Soft News Standards?: How Political Journalists in Different Media Systems Evaluate the Shifting Quality of News. Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 10(2), 47-68.
  72. Plummer, K. 1995. Telling Sexual Stories: Power, Change and Social Worlds. London: Routledge.
  73. Polletta, F. 2006. It Was Like a Fever: Storytelling in Protest and Politics. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press.
  74. Polletta, F., Callahan, J. 2017. Deep stories, nostalgia narratives, and fake news: Storytelling in the Trump era. American Journal of Cultural Sociology, 5, 3, 392-408.
  75. Prins, J., van Stekelenburg, J., Polletta, F. and Klandermans, B. 2013. Telling the collective story? Moroccan-Dutch young adults’ negotiation of a collective identity through storytelling. Qualitative Sociology 36(1): 81-99.
  76. Quattrociocchi W., Vicini A. 2016. Misinformation. Guida alla società dell’informazione e della credulità, Milano, FrancoAngeli.
  77. 2018. Liberi di crederci. Informazione e post-verità, Torino, Codice.
  78. Quattrociocchi W, Conte R, Lodi E. 2011. Opinions manipulation: Media, power and gossip. Advances in Complex Systems. 14 (04): 567-586.
  79. Quattrociocchi W, Caldarelli G., Scala A. 2014. Opinion dynamics on interacting networks: media competition and social influence. Scientific reports. 4: 4938. pmid:24861995.
  80. Quattrociocchi, Walter and Scala, Antonio and Sunstein, Cass R., 2016. Echo Chambers on Facebook, June 13. Available at SSRN:
  81. Ryan, M.-L. 2007. Toward a Definition of Narrative. In D. Herman (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Narrative (pp. 22-35). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  82. Roche, S.P., Pickett, J.T. and Gertz, M. 2016. The scary world of online news? Internet news exposure and public attitudes toward crime and justice. Journal of Quantitative Criminology 32(2): 215-236.
  83. Scherer, M. 2015. Hillary Clinton’s Bulldog Blazes New Campaign Finance Trails. Time, sept. 10.
  84. Silverman, C. 2016a. How A Completely False Claim About Hillary Clinton Went From A Conspiracy Message Board To Big Right Wing Blogs. BuzzFeed, nov. 4.
  85. — 2016b. Here are 50 of the biggest fake news hits on Facebook from 2016. Buzzfeed, dec. 30.
  86. Smith, T. 2010. Discourse and Narrative. In R. Hall, L. Grindstaff, & M.-C. Lo (Eds.), Handbook of Cultural Sociology (pp. 129–138). London/New York: Routledge.
  87. Stack, L. 2016. The Biggest Turning Points in a Polarizing Campaign. The New York Times, nov. 6.
  88. Strong, S.I. 2017. Alternative Facts and the Post-Truth Society: Meeting the Challenge, University of Missouri, School of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper Series, R.P. No. 2017-04,
  89. Sundar, S.S. 2016. Why do we fall for fake news? The Conversation.
  90. Sunstein, C.R. 2009. 2.0. Princeton, Princeton University Press.
  91. Tavernise, S. 2016. As fake news spreads lies, more readers shrug at the truth. New York Times. --
  92. Törnberg, P. 2018. Echo chambers and viral misinformation: Modeling fake news as complex contagion. PLOS one 13(9).
  93. Van Dijck, J. 2013. The culture of connectivity: A critical history of social media. Oxford, OUP.
  94. Van Dijck J, Poell T. Understanding social media logic. 2013
  95. Vosoughi S, Roy D., Aral S. 2018. The spread of true and false news online. Science. 359(6380):1146-1151.
  96. Wendling, M. 2018. Alt-Right: From 4Chan to the White House. London, Pluto Press.
  97. White, H. 1987. The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation. London: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  98. Zupello, S. 2016. 13 Most WTF Stories of 2016. Rolling Stone. December 29.

Gianluca Maestri, Fiction and its narratives. Fake news between cultural codes and collective representations in "SOCIOLOGIA E POLITICHE SOCIALI" 3/2018, pp 93-125, DOI: 10.3280/SP2018-003006