When and Why Citizens Resist the Authority of Professional Expertise, Politics and Media

  • Understanding Resistance to Knowledge Authorities

A dominant narrative holds that we live in a “post-truth” era where previously legitimate sources of knowledge are rejected by citizens who not only turn against elites but also ‘spread’ resistance between fields like scientific expertise, political institutions and the official media.

Claims and conjectures are abound in the public debate, but the REACTOR project provides the first multinational, cross-sectoral, mixed-method empirical examination of the widespread claims of ‘post-truth’. By combining the sociology of authority and knowledge with public opinion research, we investigate if ordinary citizens do in fact resist established authorities in professional expertise, politics and media information and whether resistance is linked across domains.

We also aim to develop an in-depth understanding of what motivates resistance to or mistrust of knowledge authorities seen from the citizen’s perspective.