Loughborough University
Hall-Chadwick-Vaccari - MCS - Misinformation Distinction - FINAL July 24 2023.pdf (364.7 kB)

Online misinformation and everyday ontological narratives of social distinction

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-15, 11:14 authored by Natalie-Anne HallNatalie-Anne Hall, Andrew ChadwickAndrew Chadwick, Cristian Vaccari
Most research into online misinformation has investigated its direct effects—the impact it may have on citizens’ beliefs and behavior. Much less attention has been paid to how citizens themselves make sense of misinformation as a broader social problem. We integrate theories of narrative, identity, cultural capital, and social distinction to examine how people construct the problem of misinformation and their orientation to it. We show how people engage in everyday ontological narratives of social distinction. These involve making a variety of discursive moves to position one’s ‘taste’ in information consumption as superior to others constructed as lower in a social hierarchy. This serves to enhance social status by separating oneself from misinformation, which is presented as ‘other people’s problem.’ We argue that these narratives have significant implications not only for citizens’ vigilance toward misinformation but also their receptiveness to interventions by policymakers, fact-checkers, news organizations, and media educators.


Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant (RPG2020-019)



  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • Communication and Media

Published in

Media, Culture and Society


SAGE Publications


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

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Acceptance date







  • en


Prof Andrew Chadwick. Deposit date: 14 August 2023