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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

16/05/2023

CFP: Analyzing protest in the digital age. Challenges and opportunities in combining text and video sources

Organizers Donatella della Porta, Scuola Normale Superiore Swen Hutter, Freie Universität Berlin & WZB Berlin Social Science Center Place and date WZB Berlin Social Science Center, December 7-8, 2023

22/02/2023

15 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 15 PhD fellowships beginning on November 1, 2023. The deadline for applications is April 13, 2023.

16/02/2023

Applications now open! Fourth Edition of the ECPR-COSMOS Summer School on Methods for the Study of Political Participation and Mobilisation

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Applicants must send their application materials no later than March the 17th 2023.

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.

Publications

Journal Article - 2023

Emotions in Action: the Role of Emotions in Refugee Solidarity Activism

Chiara Milan
This article investigates the different types of emotions that result from participation in refugee solidarity activism, investigating how they change over time and to what extent they explain why individuals remain involved in action in spite of unfavorable circumstances.

Monograph - 2023

Populism and (Pop) Music

Manuela Caiani, Enrico Padoan
The book provides a detailed account of the links between production of popular culture to the rise of populism and contributes to studies on populism and popular culture in Italy, using a comparative approach and a cultural sociology perspective

Journal Article - 2023

Mutual aid and solidarity politics in times of emergency: direct social action and temporality in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lorenzo Zamponi
From the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing measures introduced created a series of social problems and needs that were partially addressed in Italy as well as in other countries by grassroots mutual aid initiatives. While many of these initiatives were strongly rooted in the Italian social movement and civil society landscape and the choice to engage in mutual aid activities was the result of long years of reflection and planning, the article shows how strongly the temporality of emergency affected the nature of these initiatives, their development and their outcomes, in particular with regard to the extraordinary number of people who volunteered and their relationship with politicisation processes.

Journal Article - 2023

‘Love is over, this is going to be Turkey!’: cathartic resonance between the June 2013 protests in Turkey and Brazil

Batuhan Eren
This study addresses the question of why and how a protest can inspire individuals in distant countries. Taking the June 2013 protests in Turkey and Brazil as cases, it investigates the reasons why the Turkish protests were framed as one of the inspirational benchmarks by some Brazilian protesters.

Monograph - 2022

Labour conflicts in the digital age

Donatella della Porta, Riccardo Emilio Chesta, Lorenzo Cini
From Deliveroo to Amazon, digital platforms have drastically transformed the way we work. But how are these transformations being received and challenged by workers? This book provides a radical interpretation of the changing nature of worker movements in the digital age, developing an invaluable approach that combines social movement studies and industrial relations. Using case studies taken from Europe and North America, it offers a comparative perspective on the mobilizing trajectories of different platform workers and their distinct organizational forms and action repertoires.

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 - 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.

Monograph - 2021

Migrant Protest. Interactive Dynamics in Precarious Mobilizations

Elias Steinhilper
This book explores the interactions and spaces shaping the emergence, trajectory, and fragmentation of migrant protest in unfavorable contexts of marginalization.

Journal Article - 2021

Populism between voting and non-electoral participation

Andrea Pirro & Martín Portos
The article focuses on a neglected aspect of populist mobilisation, i.e. non-electoral participation (NEP), and elaborates on the extent to which populist party voters engage politically outside the polling station. While challenging common understandings of populism as inherently distrustful and apathetic, and protest as an exclusive practice of the left, the study critically places NEP at the heart of populism in general, and populist right politics in particular.

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.