The Rise of Populist Political Communication: Political Parties, Media, and Citizens in Times of Crisis

Political Parties
Public Opinion
Panel Number
Panel Chair
Giuliano Bobba
Università degli Studi di Torino
Panel Co-Chair
Nicolas Hubé
Université de Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne
Panel Discussant
Oscar Mazzoleni
Université de Lausanne
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08/09/2017 11:00
Building: BL20 Helga Engs hus Floor: Basement Room: HE U36
Populism has been primarily studied as a political phenomenon, while the communicative dimension of populism has often been rather underexplored so far. The study of populist political communication, actually, has never been more important in light of several issues that cross Europe such as the economic crisis, the refugee crisis, and terrorism. All these factors have created favourable conditions for the emergence and growth of a new wave of populism in Europe. Nevertheless, it remains unclear (i) how the populist actors communicate in a highly mediated environment characterized by the spread of social media; (ii) what is the role of the media in restraining or supporting frames and themes close to populist stance; (iii) how citizens / voters react to populist discourses and appeals.
The aim of this panel is to begin to answer these open questions, by contributing to the scientific debate on the populist political communication. Even though the definition of populism is contentious, generally scholars agree that populist discourse centres on the juxtaposition of a 'good people' with a series of 'bad elites'. Moreover, especially in the case of right-wing populist discourse, the people’s values, identities and rights are said to be endangered not only by the actions of the elites, but also by those of a series of ‘others’ who, it is claimed, are given preferential treatment by the elites (Taggart, 2000; Mudde, 2004, 2007; Jagers and Walgrave 2007; Albertazzi and McDonnell 2015; Kriesi, 2015).
Considering these elements as the core of populism, contributions to this panel should address the following broad topic areas:
(i) populist political actors communication strategies: which are the key features of populist discourses? What role does a populist leader play with respect to the party? How do populist political actors use social media? How do they engage citizens and mobilize supporters?
(ii) the role of the media: which is the role of the media (legacy vs. digital media; mainstream vs. tabloid media; experts) in enabling or restraining salience and visibility of populist issues, actors and frames? What are the features of «media populism» and in what conditions it can grow? (Mazzoleni 2003)?
(iii) citizens reactions: who are the supporters of populist parties? Which type of media do they use most? Which are the effects of populist messages on citizens? How do citizens engage with populist political communication?
National case studies, as well as comparative perspective research, will be particularly welcomed.

Paper List

A Dialogue on Populism? A Study of Intellectual Discourse about Populism in the Brexit Debate in Italy and the UK View Paper Details
Communicating Populism Online. Radical Right in 2015 Polish Parliamentary Elections View Paper Details
The Rise of Populism on Facebook. A Comparative Analysis of Party Communication in France, Italy, Spain and the UK View Paper Details
Why is the Populist Radical Right so Popular? The Role of News Media Content in Explaining the Popularity of the Front National View Paper Details
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