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Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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The Cultural Side of Populism. Politics, Emotions, Subcultures and Music in populist times

This workshop contributes to the debate about cultural aspects and emotions in the study of politics and populism in particular, by addressing the topic from an interdisciplinary perspective (political science and political sociology, together with cultural and media studies and musicology) and from a standpoint of methodological pluralism.

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Organizers: Manuela Caiani, Scuola Normale Superiore (collaborator of the Volkwagen Stiftung research project ‘Popular Music as a Medium for the Mainstreaming of Populist Ideology in Europe’ ); Francesca Feo, Scuola Normale Superiore; Osservatorio Internazionale per la Coesione e Inclusione Sociale (OCIS), Reggio Emilia

The last two decade have seen the marked growth of populist movements and parties across Europe, which are calling into question some of the EU’s founding principles such as pluralism, democracy, human rights, etc. Populism has been the subject of many studies, however most of them have concentrated on the political and economic dimensions of populism success, neglecting the importance of cultural and cognitive as well as emotional aspects of the phenomenon. In fact, scholars have only recently brought emotions back into the analysis of social and political movements, power relations and institutions (e.g. Goodwin, Jasper and Polletta 2001), yet populist actors and leaders mainly mobilize emotions for their success.

As has been recently pointed out, populism can be understood as ‘a performance of crisis’ (Paxton 2018). In particular, significantly, practically no studies consider the role of popular culture and music in the formation and dissemination of populist collective identities and ideologies. (Dunkel et al. 2018). Yet, music has been tied to concepts of ethnicity, nationality, (collective) identity, self-expression, spatial belonging, and authenticity – ideas that populists emphasize in their rhetoric. In addition, music has always been an effective medium for the propagation of extreme-right ideologies (e.g. neo-Nazi subcultures), as well as left wing identities.

This workshop addresses these issues, by including contributions that address the topic from an interdisciplinary perspective (political science and political sociology, together with cultural and media studies and musicology) and from a standpoint of methodological pluralism. The aim is to contribute to the debate about cultural aspects and emotions in the study of politics and populism in particular.

The workshop will be organized in three sections: The first (SESSION 1: POPULISM AND EMOTIONS) will set the overall analytical framework; the second one ((POPULIST) POLITICS AND MUSIC) will explore in more depth the relation between populism and culture(s), including music and political ‘subcultures’, with empirical evidence drawn from different case studies in Europe and beyond, both past and present. The final set of contributions (SESSION 3: SUBCULTURES, POLITICAL POWER AND SYMBOLS) will examine the relation between populist ‘cultural’ productions and practices and their communication via the media, as well as providing a critical discussion of potential future directions for ‘populism’ research.

See the full programme for more information on speakers and topics.

News

10/01/2022

SNS announces 14 fully-funded PhD positions

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The Faculty of Political and Social Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence, Italy is pleased to announce 14 PhD fellowships beginning on November 1, 2022.

16/07/2021

Prof. della Porta to lead VolkswagenStiftung-funded ECSEuro project

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Reflecting the European challenge of transnational cooperation and multiple crises, this project asks how local political initiatives across Europe enact citizenship and solidarity and contribute to the vision of a more democratic Europe from below.

09/07/2021

SNS announces 7 fully-funded PhD positions

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The Faculty of Political and Social Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore announces 7 fully-funded PhD positions. Deadline for applications: 21 August 2021.

28/09/2020

Four post-doctoral research positions on the pandemic

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The Scuola Normale Superiore announces four post-doctoral positions to be activated as part of the research project “After the coronavirus pandemic: The effects of the health emergency on society and knowledge.” 

26/02/2020

CFP Athens conference "Capitalism, Democracy, Contention: A Decade of Crisis" 13-15 May 2020

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Aspiring to shed light on the Greek experience in the era of crisis in a comparative, inter-disciplinary perspective, the Laboratory on Contentious Politics (Department of Political Science and History, Panteion University, Athens), the Centre on Social Movement Studies (Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence) and the Hellenic Political Science Association are organizing an international conference to be held at Panteion University, on 13, 14 and 15 May 2020.

12/12/2019

Prof. Donatella Della Porta to Be Awarded Honorary PhD

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On Friday 13, 2019, the University of the Peloponnese (PSIR) will award an honorary doctorate to Professor Donatella Della Porta, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore.

Publications

Journal Article - 2022

Populists in power and conspiracy theories

Andrea Pirro & Paul Taggart
Looking at three cases of populists in government – Orbán in Hungary, Trump in the United States, and Chávez in Venezuela – we examine the definition of conspiring elites (who), the circumstances under which conspiracy theories are propagated (when), and the ultimate purpose of conspiratorial framing (why).

Monograph - 2022

Resisting the Backlash: Street Protest in Italy

Donatella della Porta, Niccolò Bertuzzi, Daniela Chironi, Chiara Milan, Martín Portos & Lorenzo Zamponi
Drawing interview material, together with extensive data from the authors’ original social movement database, this book examines the development of social movements in resistance to perceived political "regression" and a growing right-wing backlash.

Journal Article - 2022

The mobilization for spatial justice in divided societies. Urban commons, trust reconstruction and socialist memory in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Chiara Milan
The article contributes to the urban studies literature and the study of social movements in divided societies by disclosing the distinctive features and mobilizing potential that the notion of urban commons retains in a war-torn society with a socialist legacy.

Journal Article - 2022

Casting a new light on the democratic spectator

Andrea Felicetti
Scholarship in relation to democratic theory tends to see spectatorship as a state in which citizens are politically uninterested, isolated, and passive. In this article, the author shows that positive spectatorship occurs when citizens show an interest in one or more political problems and, together with others, strive to understand them better.

Journal Article - 2022

Far right: The significance of an umbrella concept

Andrea Pirro
This contribution makes the case for a shift in boundaries between the (populist) radical right and the extreme right, arguing for the systematic use of the term ‘far right’.

Journal Article - 2022

Performing (during) the Coronavirus crisis: The Italian populist radical right between national opposition and subnational government

Andrea Pirro
The first year of COVID-19 confirmed the standing of the populist radical right in Italy. While sitting in opposition at the national level, Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy and Matteo Salvini's League shared common criticism of the Conte II government but experienced diverging trajectories in terms of popularity. These changes can be partly attributed to the different agency of their leaderships. Overall and collectively considered, the Italian populist radical right broke even during the first year of COVID-19, but the crisis exposed the first cracks in Salvini's leadership.

Monograph - 2022

Contentious Politics in Emergency Critical Junctures

Donatella della Porta
Based on existing research on the first phases of the pandemic Covid-19, this Element addresses the ways in with the health emergency had an impact on the repertoire of action, the organizational networks and the collective framing of progressive social movements that adapted to the pandemic conditions and the related crises, but also tried to transform them.

Edited Volume - 2021

Contentious Migrant Solidarity. Shrinking Spaces and Civil Society Contestation

Donatella della Porta & Elias Steinhilper
Building upon social movement and migration studies, this book maps the two sides of ‘contentious solidarity’: a shrinking civic space and its contestation by civil society.

Journal Article - 2021

Learning from Democratic Practices: New Perspectives in Institutional Design

Andrea Felicetti
Drawing from literature on democratic practices in social movements and democratic innovations, the article illustrates three ways to advance institutional design in the wake of the systemic turn.

Journal Article - 2021

Far-right protest mobilisation in Europe: Grievances, opportunities and resources

Pietro Castelli Gattinara, Caterina Froio & Andrea Pirro
In this article, we bridge previous research on the far right and social movements to advance hypotheses on the drivers of far-right protest mobilisation based on grievances, opportunities and resource mobilisation models. We use an original dataset combining novel data on 4,845 far-right protest events in 11 East and West European countries (2008–2018), with existing measures accounting for the (political, economic and cultural) context of mobilisation.