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Research Objectives

Our research has three broad objectives:

Objective 1. Build a new, interdisciplinary model to describe, interpret and explain the rise of populism in the CEE region.While scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds have been looking at populism [Rovira Kaltwasser et al. 2017], we propose that the full potential of interdisciplinary research has not been achieved yet. We draw on sources, and apply models from, various disciplines and combine them into a rich study of the forces at play. We are working on contributions from:

Economics. We explore the hypothesis that populism both drives and is driven by the transformation of the economy on the global, regional and domestic levels. We hope to identify the perception of economic (in)security as the main cause of the rise of populism. We also claim that by building upon the fear of economic insecurity and, in turn, by adopting elements of state capitalist regimes, CEE countries experience the emergence of neo-feudalism, which is a particular form of economic populism.

Sociology. We look at the populist phenomenon through the lens of cultural neo-traditionalism. Additionally, we create and implement a diachronic model: we want to study populist movements and the societies they inhabit as they develop over time, not as a ‘snapshot’.

Political science. We study the interaction between political actors pushing the populist agenda and civil society groups or individual citizens that decide to support them, or, vice versa, to push back. We investigate forms of political mobilization, both traditional (marches, rallies) and non-traditional (social media activism, troll farms, bot armies), and how they play out in the political arena.

Anthropology. We ‘go deep’ into trying to see a populist promise the way ordinary Europeans see it from inside of their own cultures – and that means both supporters of populist movements and opponents thereof. To this end, we use an ethnographic/constructivist approach, for its strength to encode the point of view of the human community being studied.