The multi-disciplinary, international POPBACK project aims to inform strategies to increase democratic resilience by studying the mechanisms “exclusionary populists” use to increase their power by undermining the Rule of Law in the areas of law, the economy, and the media. The project also seeks to identify the “coping strategies” societal actors use when faced with exclusionary populism.
Aims and Research Questions
This project aims to inform strategies to increase democratic resilience by studying the mechanisms “exclusionary populists” use to increase their power by undermining the Rule of Law in the areas of law, the economy, and the media. The project also seeks to identify the “coping strategies” societal actors use when faced with exclusionary populism. This topic is highly relevant to the call themes by investigating the politics and economics of threat (Theme 2 – work packages 1 and 2); the democratisation of information (Theme 3 – WP3); and the changing authority of and trust in institutions (Theme 5 – all WPs).
The project explores the following research questions (RQ):
RQ1: To what extent is there a decline in the private-public divide and the Rule of Law; and to what extent are they related to the rise of exclusionary populism?
RQ2: What factors make states vulnerable or resilient to the strategies of exclusionary populist parties and movements that have acquired significant power?
RQ3: What strategies do exclusionary populist parties use to erode the boundaries between the public- and the private domains once they have acquired power?
RQ4: What strategies do societal actors in the economic and media spheres use to deal with (the perspective of) exclusionary populists in power?
Adopting an interdisciplinary approach spanning political economy, legal-, management-, and media studies, the study compares Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and Turkey, all of which have experienced varying degrees of populist success.
Besides high-impact publications, the findings of the project will inform concrete solutions for challenges to democratic governance. As part of the project the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy, have created five International Policy Fellowships for key stakeholders from the countries studied. These constitute channels for evidence-based input from world-leading academics to inform coping strategies and stimulate cross-country knowledge exchange. Furthermore, the research team seeks to reach a broader non-academic audience by collaborating with artists to stage a participatory performance in four cities to engage a dialogue with citizens from the countries in the study.
This project is organised into four Work Packages (WPs), focussing on legal changes (WP1), business and economics (WP2), media and communications (WP3), and impact (WP4).
WP1: Mapping legal changes
The first WP focuses on the macro-institutional and legal-constitutional aspects of exclusionary populism.
WP2: The political economy
In WP2 we investigate how firms react to populism. Beyond investigating patterns of institutional change, this WP also seeks to provide an understanding of the mechanisms at work in individual countries.
WP3: Media and communication
This WP takes a novel sensitive approach, combining macro, meso and micro levels of communicative authoritarian populism, to reveal the interconnectedness between the political and communication fields.
WP4 is dedicated to creating pathways to impact by engaging relevant stakeholders from the early stages of the project.
The POPBACK project brings together a team of researchers from eight institutions in five countries. The team spans various disciplines including law, political science, media and communication studies, and management studies.
- Dr Gerhard Schnyder (Project Leader)
University of Cambridge:
- Professor Simon Deakin (Principal Investigator)
Goethe University Frankfurt:
- Professor Andreas Noelke (Principal Investigator)
The Peace Institute Ljubljana:
- Dr Mojca Pajnik (Principal Investigator)
University of Vienna:
- Professor Birgit Sauer (Principal Investigator)
Visit the project website: www.norface.net/project/popback