UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


People, Populism, and the Perils of Disinformation

17 December 2020, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv

Politics and Sociology Seminar Series with Professor Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv, University of Tromso

This event is free.

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Conflict has increasingly gone online. Today’s methods of warfare include those that are “under threshold”, that is, those that are not explicit deployments of force or violence. Instead, attempts to destabilise a society or country, either by state or non-state actors, bypasses more traditional forms of warfare and targets the hearts and minds of civilian populations directly. As part of a hybrid or grey zone warfare strategy, cyber attacks including mis- and disinformation often target existing vulnerabilities in a society to further exacerbate these, with the goal to create more discord. Ordinary people, and their reactions to cyber attacks on infrastructure/services and/or disinformation, play a central role in the success or failure of such attacks. Often people react as a consequence of their own trust levels towards each other as well as to their authorities. Trust, mistrust, and distrust do not operate in a linear fashion however, and are expressed differently in different parts of a society. In this talk I want to discuss how trust/mistrust/distrust operates in two different cases – Norway (known for high societal trust levels) and the United States (lower societal trust levels). Both societies have seen the rise of populist trends, which itself reflects a distrust of authorities or “elites”. I will present some examples of where disinformation has or can play a role in exacerbating distrust within certain segments of society.

About the Speaker

Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv

Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv is Professor of Critical Peace and Conflict Studies with a specialization in Security Studies and International Relations at the University of Tromsø- The Arctic University of Norway. She currently leads the project Resilient Civilians examining civilian agency in population-centric and hybrid warfare scenarios (partially funded by the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme), and recently completed a project investigating the trajectories of indigenous territorial rights in Russia (funded by the Research Council of Norway). Her book publications include "Understanding Civil-Military Interaction: Lessons Learned from the Norwegian Model" (Ashgate, 2014) and (co-editor and contributor) "Environmental and Human Security in the Arctic" (Routledge, 2014), and most recently, (co-editor and contributor) of “Routledge Handbook of Arctic Security” (Routledge, 2020). She has published in Review of International Studies, Security Dialogue, Political Psychology, International Studies Review, among other journals, as well as written numerous book chapters.

More about Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv