CfP: Populism and radical right politics in Central and Eastern Europe: rethinking the role of media, public discourse and their publics (25-28/08/15, 12th ESA – Prague, CZ); DL: 28/01/15.

Part of the 12th Conference of the European Sociological Association (25-28 August 2015, Prague, CZ), the RN32 Political Sociology organizes Session 4: The Populist Radical Right as Political Actor in Europe. The proposed panel on populism and radical right politics in Central and Eastern Europe is organized by Gabriella Szabó (CSS, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, HU) szabo.gabriella[at] and Ov Cristian Norocel (CEREN, University of Helsinki, FI) cristian.norocel[at], and is envisaged to fit within this framework.

Already a decade ago it was aptly noted that the study of populist radical right in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) resembles the efforts of aiming at a target in motion. Since then, several researchers have explored the populist radical right political landscape in the region. Still, we believe that studies of populism and radical right are facing the dilemma of whether categories of Western-oriented research properly describe the populist and radical right politics in CEE countries. A case in point, anti-immigration and Islamophobia seem to be non-issues in the CEE contexts, whilst ethno-nationalism (such as in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania), fundamentalist Catholicism (like in Croatia, Poland) and the frustration over the loss of past glories of the country (Hungary) are often hard to synchronize with Western developments. All the more important, the study of populist radical right parties needs to take into account the increasing inequality and growing intolerance to difference (be it ethnic, religious, etc.) in the societies across the CEE. The much needed comparative analyses on European trends of populism and radical right radicalism should be supported by deeper theoretical, conceptual and empirical knowledge on the regional specificities in CEE countries. It is especially true for the ‘soft’ factors of radicalization such as the role of media and public discourse in the dynamics of populism and radical right. Therefore, we seek comprehensive assessments of mainstream media response to the populism and radical right radicalism.

The panel aims to examine the extent to which public discourses are penetrated by populism and the level of visibility of the populist and radical right actors are in the public debates. We also address the question of the rather under-researched populist and radical right publics. The social media are believed to be intensively used by populist and radical actors to connect with each other and mobilize electoral support. If it is the case, we are interested in studying the impact and the patterns of this interactive way of populist and radical right communication in CEE countries. The international literature lacks reliable information on the rapidly growing media universe of populism and radical right radicalism with a powerful mix of social media, traditional formats of written press and radio and TV broadcast to balance the hostile mainstream media environment. In other words, we are interested to examine both in a comparative perspective and in case studies whether populist and radical media products have entered into the mainstream or they remain on the fringes of media sphere. We encourage contributions that investigate complex social manifestations, such as the examination of the subcultural environment in the CEE, the intersections of popular culture (skinhead music, rock festivals, and football hooliganism), mass gathering (marches, rallies, festivals) and identity construction (with particular attention to intersections of gender, ethnicity, and sexuality).

Please, send your abstract (no more than 250 words) to both organizers at szabo.gabriella[at] and cristian.norocel[at] by January 28 2015. The potential participants will be informed in due time whether their papers have been accepted and be directed to submit the abstracts through the conference official submission platform before February 1 2015.

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Wednesday, January 14th, 2015 Research No Comments

Who is Afraid of Gender? – Reflections after the 12th ICYS in Prague

I know it sounds a bit cliché but really, who is afraid of gender theorizations and gender in general? Why do I ask myself this? As a result of the 2008 ICYS in Prague (in plain English the 12th International Conference of Young Scholars plus the location tag “in Prague” that seems to make a sea of a difference, since there are so many international conferences of young scholars almost everywhere; Google, if in disbelief).

But let’s not get off the track. The narrative should focus on my personal pursuance of a gender sensitive research agenda. As such, I planned on having a presentation, with the desire to stimulate criticism and feedback, on the lack of any gender perspective in the theorization of extreme-right populism. Well, things turned to be slightly different, landing in the last panel as the last presenter, after a day-long marathon of discussions, presentations and so forth. Thus, after noticing that my PPS does not really want to open, I improvised a presentation without any visual aide in front of a rather slim, women-only audience. The discussion that followed was in part enticed by the different background of those present (from economics, international relations, political science, and anything in between).

I departed in my presentation from the Foucauldian conception that power relations shape knowledge, which in turn gives a certain meaning of the aforementioned power relations. This way, I argued, theories of extreme-right populism managed not only to keep silent about the gender structuring among these parties, but also to elude the gender problematique from the theoretical body in the field, writing off the existent patriarchal inequality. The idea of bringing gender in theories, in general, and in this field of the political science, in particular, seemed to be rather “unusual” as someone coined it. However, the Foucauldian ideas gave rise to comments concerning globalization, nationalism, and … economic recession. My reply was that globalization, or for that matter the much discussed global economic recession, is not really something that falls upon us, but that we are partaking in the creation of this particular understanding of reality. That somehow we needed to name, theorize, and discipline the reality of the end of the twentieth century, and the way we did it impacted on the way we are distributed into this global web and reassures us that we are under its effect.

From the above, one may easily notice that again, the idea of gender was somehow slipped into the footnotes of the discussion. It seemed as if it is still somewhat of a heresy to talk about the patriarchal nature of the market economy, and other such topics in front of some of the young scholars in Europe. Moreover, at times I had the feeling that even though talking gender, I did it from the position of a man scholar, and did not allow room for discussions other than in the direction that I thought was more fruitful. I think I need to work more on this aspect, and be more aware not only on my topic but also on my relation with the audience and the text I am presenting. The question remains still: who is afraid of gender? I think that one way to find out would be to attend the ICYS in Prague next year chairing a panel on gender and national constructions, nationalism and the kind. Does this sound too self-praising and ambitious?

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Friday, June 6th, 2008 Research No Comments