Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Session
RN20_01a_P: Analysing Populism
Time:
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Lukas Tomas Marciniak, Lodz University
Location: PC.4.22
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 4.

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Presentations

Sexual Difference in Serbia and Croatia: A Dispositive Analysis on Homophobia in the Western Balkans

Martin Mlinarić

Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg/Medical Faculty, Germany

Objective: The finished PhD project examines the status of sexual difference within the framework of post-socialist transition to liberal democracies and the Europeanization of two post-Yugoslav societies after the outburst of the 2008 financial crisis.

Background: The latest (2008) European Values Survey (EVS) documents the high degree of homophobic attitudes in Serbia and Croatia. Banned pride parades in Belgrade (2011–2013), right-wing hate speech and violence in Belgrade or Split (2010/2011), and the Croatian referendum on constitutional protection for heterosexual marriage are just the tip of the iceberg. However, both countries implemented anti-discrimination bills (2008/2009) and Croatia (2014) recently introduced same-sex unions (2014) for gay and lesbian couples.

Methods: A societal comparison was applied that is based on the qualitative analysis of Serbian and Croatian mass media coverage (printed, online and TV media). The qualitative dispositive analysis (n=801) analyzes discursive contexts, formations/strands, and links in both dispositives in the period after the introduction of anti-discrimination bills (2009–2013). The qualitative data was coded inductively with MAXQDA.

Results: The Serbian context circulates rather around public visibility of sexual difference, whereas in Croatia legal-symbolic equality and recognition becomes more important. In both transition-dispositives sexuality is linked with democracy and liberal-permissive multiculturalist tolerance. Sexual difference becomes in the permissive strand a metaphor for the liberal-democratic transition of peripheral European societies. However, provincial minds (prohibitive strand) oppose successfully “gender ideology” and “homosexual propaganda” anticipatory with liberal-secular concepts, like pluralism and anti-discrimination.

Conclusions: In both countries only partial concessions for sexual difference are granted in the sphere of public visibility (Serbia) and same-sex partnerships (Croatia) due to successful and anticipatory resistance of Christian inspired populist movements.


Computational and interpretive analysis of populist argumentation. Counterknowledge and conspiracy theory in Finnish anti-immigrant online publics

Tuukka Ylä-Anttila

University of Helsinki, Finland

Populism is increasingly claimed to represent ‘post-truth politics’, based on emotions, taking a relativist or ambivalent position to facts. Often, this is attributed to online media enabling anyone to create and disseminate ‘counterknowledge’, challenging established knowledge authorities and policies. Understanding populism as political argumentation that claims to represent ‘the people’ against the corrupt elite, I argue that counterknowledge is instrumental in populist mobilization. I study counterknowledge and conspiracy theory in anti-immigrant online publics by computational and interpretive methods in the case of Finland, which has seen an unprecedented wave of anti-immigrant politics in the 2010s. I analyse 318,081 messages on the anti-immigration discussion board Hommaforum and 13,497 news articles by the popular conspiracist countermedia ‘WTF Media’ (MV-lehti) using a combination of topic modeling to locate relevant discussions, and a qualitative, interpretive reading of views on knowledge, counterknowledge and conspiracy. A multi-faceted view emerges. While often subscribing to conspiracist views, many anti-immigration activists nevertheless claim to hold knowledge, truth and evidence in high esteem, and profess positivist and empiricist views – an overblown ‘scientism’, overly reliant on the possibilities of scientific inquiry to gain knowledge about society and use it for ‘rational’ governance – and strongly oppose any ambivalent or relativist truth orientations. For them, it is the multiculturalists and ‘establishment hacks’ who are ‘post-truth’. The populist relationship to truth is multifaceted but in my material, often absolutist and black-and-white, like its relationship to power and democracy. Methodologically, I argue that combining topic modeling with interpretive qualitative analysis is fruitful, since it lends credibility, robustness and reproducibility to qualitative interpretations by enabling the use of larger data and grounding the findings in quantifiable patterns in texts.


An interpretive perspective on self-perception and communicative strategies in contexts shaped by perceived precarity and social decline

Niklaus Reichle

University of St.Gallen, Institute of Sociology, Switzerland

This paper examines how the relatively small white Afrikaans-speaking population segments in South Africa emotionally and communicatively cope with precarity and socially downward mobility. Conventionally claimed yet empirically understudied, these population segments are said to develop emotionally laden resentments against ethnic or racial ‘others’ and to support populist leaders and movements.

But how are notions/perceptions of precarity constituted in particular interview situations? What are the communicative strategies/practices in which they are manifested? In which world views and political ideas are these perceptions embedded? And how is social decline experienced and coped with emotionally as well as cognitively?

This paper draws on a case study that is currently being conducted on two specific university campuses in South Africa. It gives an insight into the fieldwork – particularly into interview situations concerning student residences on these two campuses. The paper focuses on a first attempt to typify communicative strategies of dealing with the perception of socioeconomic and ethnocultural precarity as well as of social decline.



 
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