CFP: 8th Populism Specialist Group Annual Workshop

April 29, 2024


8th Annual Populism Specialist Group Workshop

Populism, Anti-Populism, Polarisation

19-20 September 2024
Democracy Institute, CEU, Budapest (on-site event)

Keynote Speakers:

Oliver Marchart
University of Vienna
Emilia Palonen
University of Helsinki

Contemporary societies are said to be characterised by increasing polarisation on almost every single issue – ranging from science and the vaccines, identity politics and intersectionality, the environment and climate change, truth and freedom of speech, to name but a few. The so-called truth or culture wars constitute the new norm, drawing new political antagonisms that cut across the classic left/right axis. A burgeoning literature suggests that polarisation has pernicious effects, not only on political party systems but also on society and, by extension, democracy. Reflecting the recent populist hype, polarisation is most often associated with populist leaders, parties and discourses that challenge the political and social consensus, mobilising negative affects and forming antagonistic partisan identities that transgress the established norms of liberal democracies.

However, polarisation is not a new political feature, nor is it necessarily intrinsic to the populist phenomenon as antagonism and conflict are seen as inseparable parts of the political. The same goes for political emotions – a core dimension of political conflict that has always been met with suspicion. While the role of populists in the politics of polarisation has been extensively studied, the role of anti-populists has been largely overlooked. This blind spot is significant, as understanding polarisation as a relational dynamic implies, by definition, that anti-populism also plays a prominent role in this divide.
We welcome critical and reflexive contributions that interrogate the dynamic between populist and anti-populist polarisation, and more broadly explore the rise of the polarisation narrative and how it can be connected to discourses on populism as an alleged threat to democracy. A non-exhaustive list of topics can be found below:
• Critical perspectives on populism, anti-populism and polarisation
• Populist/anti-populist polarisation across time and space
• The role political elites play in polarisation and the impact they have on democracy
• The relationship between conflict and democracy, and its interconnection with populism
• Nuanced understandings of political affects/emotions that go beyond their stereotypical demonisation
• Antagonism as an intrinsic aspect of collective identification
• Contrasting constructions of ‘common sense’ as a source of antagonism
• Converging and diverging antagonism (e.g. class, people-centric politics, nationalism)
• The role the internet-sphere, memes, humour and technology play in polarisation between populists and anti-populists
Please submit a 250-word abstract by 17 May 2024 using this form.

We will notify applicants by 28 June 2024. We aim to provide feedback to those whose abstract is rejected.

The workshop is free of charge. However, applicants should make their own arrangements for transport and accommodation.

The Populism Specialist Group provides an inclusive, vibrant and critical space for dialogue. We highly encourage junior and emerging, as well as established scholars, from different fields, ethnic backgrounds and regions of the world to participate.

For more information, please contact Giorgos Venizelos [].