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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

22/07/2019

Protest for a future: international report on #FridaysForFuture and the climate strike

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Composition, mobilization and motives of the participants in Fridays For Future climate protests on 15 March 2019, in 13 European cities. A multi-country collaboration report, with contributions from COSMOS researchers Lorenzo Zamponi, Donatella della Porta, Martín Portos, Niccolò Bertuzzi and Daniela Chironi.

21/06/2019

Call for papers: "The Nation and the Radical Left - Practices and Discourses of National Identity in Left-Wing Politics"

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The call for papers is now open for a conference on national identities and left-wing politics.

18/06/2019

Call for papers: “Class without consciousness” – The Politics of Fragmented Class Identities

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The call for papers is now open for a two-day conference on class and identities at the Scuola Normale Superiore on 14-15 November 2019

Publications

Journal Article - 2019

From the Rainy Place to the Burnt Palace: How Social Movements Form their Political Strategies. The Case of the Six Federations of the Tropic of Cochabamba

Leonidas Oikonomakis
Exploring the case of the cocaleros of the Chapare, this article argues that more emphasis should be placed on mechanisms that are internal to the movements, such as: (a) the resonance of other political experiences at home and abroad, (b) internal struggles for ideological hegemony, and (c) the political formation of their grassroots.

Journal Article - 2019

The Modern Prince and the Sociological Imagination

Riccardo Emilio Chesta, Michael Burawoy
Michael Burawoy in Conversation with Riccardo Emilio Chesta