Setting the scene: Filling the Gaps in Populism Studies


This article introduces the conceptual and analytical framework for the special issue, which explores the cultural side of populism: the relationships between politics, emotions, music, and subcultures in populist contexts. We highlight the role that cultural and symbolic 'products' (such as music, emotions, narratives, and visual symbols) play in the emergence and spread of populism. First, we explore the opportunities afforded by understanding the concept of populism from a cultural/symbolic point of view, reaching beyond the traditional party politics literature to which it is usually confined. Second, we suggest different ways in which populism has been articulated in various European countries (e.g. popular cultures, subcultures) since the economic crisis of 2008, emphasizing music, narratives, visuals, and emotions as means of the populist symbolic construction of the political and social reality. Third, from a social movement perspective, we reflect on the mechanisms (cognitive, emotional, normative) that may help understanding the current populist 'momentum', as well as on the methods to empirically grasp them.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v13i1p01

Keywords: Varieties of populism; socio-cultural approach to populism; cultural and symbolic construction of populism; emotions and populism; music and populism


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Papers Published in this Special Issue:

Adami A. (2020), “Visual Analysis and Right Wing (Populist) Groups”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 13(1): 315-336.

Aslanidis P. (2020), “Major Directions in Populism Studies: Is There Room for Culture?”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 13(1): 59-82.

Bonansinga D. (2020), “Who Thinks, Feels. The Relationship Between Emotions, Politics and Populism”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 13(1): 83-106.

Bulli G. (2020), “The Long Evolution of Extreme Right Music in Italy and Germany”, Par-tecipazione e conflitto, 13(1): 207-231.

Caruso L. (2020), “Populism and Pop Cultures: Podemos, the Political Use of Music and the Party as a ‘Pop Product’”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 13(1): 180-206.

Dessì V. (2020), “Voicing Change. The Popular Subject of Protest Music in Revolutionary Cairo (2011-2013)”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 13(1): 232-255.

Eklundh E. (2020), “Excluding Emotions: The Performative Function of Populism”, Par-tecipazione e conflitto, 13(1): 107-131.

Feo F. and M.R. Lundstedt (2020, “Feminism Goes Mainstream? Feminist Themes in Mainstream Popular Music in Sweden and Denmark”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 13(1): 284-314.

Klein O. (2020), “Misleading Memes. The Effects of Deceptive Visuals of the British Na-tional Party”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 13(1): 154-179.

Magaudda P. (2020), “Populism, Music and the Media. The Sanremo Festival and the Cir-culation of Populist Discourses”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 13(1): 132-153.

Ostiguy P. (2020), “The Socio-Cultural, Relational Approach to Populism”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 13(1): 29-58.

Westheuser L. (2020), “Populism as a Symbolic Class Struggle. Homology, Metaphor, and English Ale”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 13(1): 256-283.

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