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Populist democracy (11 June)

Keywords: Populism, conceptual analysis, methodology, political theory, democratic theory

Description: This workshop aims at a conceptual and theoretical discussion of populism considering the role of populist politics in contemporary democracies. We will try to capture and clarify the overarching theoretical issues that emerge from the literature. At the outset, we discuss the different definitions and approaches to the study of populism and compare their theoretical assumptions as well as their methodological implications. We then examine the relationship between populism and democracy by critically reviewing the twofold and normatively ambiguous result of populism research. Populist politics galvanize new forms of political participation and reshape repertoires of political mobilization, especially in the forms of social movements and political parties. At the same time, populism may erode democratic institutions and usher in authoritarian regimes.  Populism is also related to dysfunctional political polarization and the re-emergence of moral boundaries in form of antagonistic categories of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’. The workshop will try to help participants construct a broader framework for analyzing populism in democratic politics. It aims at being useful for scholars with a more focused interest in political theory as well as for political scientist working on populism with an empirical focus.

Target group: PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and advanced Master students who are working on populism in democratic contexts from different methodological perspectives and who are interested in the conceptual and theoretical aspects of populism.

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