Meaningful disinformation: narrative rituals and affective folktales

13 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2023

See all articles by Marco T. Bastos

Marco T. Bastos

University College Dublin; City, University of London

Marc Tuters


Date Written: October 28, 2023


In this paper we review the epistemological boundaries of disinformation studies and argue that they are informed by network and transmission models where the unit of analysis (i.e., disinformation) is assumed to follow contagion growth patterns typical of population models. This framework reduces disinformation to a behavioral problem that downplays the participatory and ritualistic dimension of disinformation, which we argue cannot be reduced, and therefore cannot be corrected, by targeting individual behavior. We review seminal contributions to information and communication studies to foreground disinformation as de facto alternative social contracts that organize the overflow of information in meaningful narratives. We conclude by arguing that disinformation studies would benefit from tracing the resonance of narratives informed by lived experiences to achieve a higher-level principle that can negotiate conflicting realities.

Keywords: Disinformation, Behavioral models, Social platforms, Rituals, Consensus, Reality

Suggested Citation

Bastos, Marco T. and Bastos, Marco T. and Tuters, Marc, Meaningful disinformation: narrative rituals and affective folktales (October 28, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Marco T. Bastos (Contact Author)

University College Dublin ( email )

Belfield, Dublin 4 4

City, University of London ( email )

United Kingdom

Marc Tuters

Independent ( email )

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