New Discourses of Populism & Nationalism

An International Conversation

Author: audreyob (page 3 of 3)

Imogen Baylis of Coventry University

The ‘best and brightest’: What tier 2 visa requirements say about the discourse on migration – Imogen Baylis

Coventry University Logo

“Talking about migrants and immigrants is one of the ways that stories of nationalism are told. When we have public debates on who should be ‘allowed in’ and who should not, we are also debating who we think is ‘like us’, a conversation which takes on a very symbolic nature, given that we only have very very loose connections to most people in the UK; or who deserves to be here, particularly with the ‘best and the brightest’ rhetoric that we hear.

If we take, for example, the salary and savings requirements for people migrating to the UK. These are seemingly pragmatic, as they require migrants to demonstrate that they can support themselves once in the UK. But they also create the narrative that the UK is wealthy and only wealthy people ‘like us’ should be allowed to live here.

The salary requirement for people applying for a Tier 2 visa, the general working visa for people living outside the European Economic Area, is £30,000. This creates one set of rules for British citizens and another for immigrants. For comparison, the average salary in the UK is around £24,000, and a gross annual salary of the hourly minimum wage (£7.83) is just over £15,200. There are also categories of workers for whom the salary requirements are much lower (£20,800) such as radiographers, nurses, secondary teachers in certain subjects, and paramedics.

If the government thinks it is possible to support oneself on £15,200, why is the Tier 2 salary requirement so high?

The justification is usually to ensure that migrants do not then become reliant on the welfare state. But why would immigrants need so much more money to avoid becoming reliant than British citizens do?

What are the implications of this disparity? What does it say about the way that immigrants are thought of or talked about?”

– Imogen Baylis, Coventry University

World Cafe Discussion Topics & Questions: Contributed by You

Through the World Café registration process, we’ve asked you to send in questions and topics that you would like to have discussed at the event! Here you will find the latest contributions, which will ultimately go towards shaping our shared dialogue, as we discuss issues related to Populism and Nationalism from our various points of view.


“Populism and campaigns, populism after campaigns, populism a policies (e.g. penal populism).” – Norbert Merkovity, University of Szeged, Hungary.


“Scottish nationalism. In particular, the nexus between class and national identity, the myth of colonisation in Scottish nationalism, and how the referenda have impacted nationalism in Scotland” – Carolina Silveira, University of West Scotland.


“I would be interested in having a discussion on how certain features of populist ‘style’ in general, and rhetoric in particular, travel across the globe. This entails, firstly, how global features of populism can, on the one hand, be extrapolated inductively from local styles, and, secondly, how global features are adopted and/or ‘domesticated’ by local actors, politicians, activists, discussants, advocates, producers etc.” – Niko Pyrhönen, University of Helsinki.


“Right- and left-wing politics in Europe in comparative perspective” – Paolo Cossarini, University of Loughborough.


“Why are people embracing populist/right-wing ideas now? What has changed? Why have topics that used to be considered right-wing become ‘normal’ topics?” – Marlene Miglbauer, Pädagogische Hochschule Burgenland


“How voters for populist causes explain their decision?” – Veronika Koller, Lancaster University


“How nostalgia plays into nationalist/populist discourse, personae and speaker style, Brexit, populist-left, changing discourses” – Emily Lake, Stanford University


“A question that needs to be discussed in this context is whether this polarization articulated by a specific use of @mentions and hashtags, can be defined as mechanisms of populist discourse, or if it is just a ‘normal’ use of social media by politicians in general.” – Johanna Mencke, Göttingen University


“How, if at all, can populism be a positive phenomenon?; Can mainstream parties be both mainstream and populist?; What is populism beyond a rhetorical appeal?” – Menno Reijven, University of Massachusetts Amherst


“How can a bias approach be identified on heavy weight news channels/networks seeing as we don’t always have access to the “other side” of these reported events?” – Ansie Maritz, North-West University


“I am interested in the idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ nationalism. I am from Wales and am interested in how Scottish nationalism seems such a positive, liberal movement.” – Josie Ryan, Bangor University


“how to build alternatives in Europe – different to the right-wing nationalist trend- from the collective engagement of popular classes.” – Juan Gonzalez, Freie Universität Berlin


“I would like to discuss migration and migrants at the Populism & Nationalism Conference World Café” – Imogen Baylis, Coventry University


“Different understandings of “populism”, especially historical approaches/transformations” – Felicitas Macgilchrist, Georg Eckert Institut


“I would like to discuss free speech, censorship vs. ‘false news'” – Rowan MacKay, the University of Edinburgh


“I would like to discuss questions of cultural identity.” – Edwin Walther


“I am mainly interested what different meanings non-academics ascribe to populism” –
Jana Goyvaerts, Vrije Universiteit Brussel


“What are the differences and similarities between left and right populism?” – David Hewitt


“Post-truth; is “populist” a valuable way of describing political parties/politicians?” – Sam Browse, Sheffield Hallam University


“A linguistic and translational perspective on hate-speech populism.” –
Mirjana Danicic


“Populism in the UK, USA and Italy.” – Denise Milizia


“I would like to discuss archetypal populism, Brexit, and problems facing the EU.” – Darren Kelsey, Newcastle University


“What is it that makes populist rhetoric influential? What can be done to resist the populist temptation?” – Ertug Tombus, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin


“I would like to discuss successful strategies to fight populism and nationalism.” – Natalie Knoblock


“Catalonia, Scotland and EU.” – Kévin Vercin, Sciences Po


“An institutional basis of a hegemony and a role of populism.” – Tatiana Romashko, University of Jyvaskyla


“Why is right-wing populism a threat to liberal democracy? Why is symbolic “heating up” of the public debate undesired? How to counteract populist discourse without undermining the freedom of speech?” – Marta Kotwas, University College London


“Left-wing populism and nationalism.” – Yannis Stavrakakis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki


Argyro Kantara of Cardiff University

Populism as (Greek) mainstream politician’s political style: Argyro Kantara

Cardiff University

“Moffit and Tormney (2014) discuss populism as a political style that is, what politicians are doing and not so much what they are saying. They claim, and I agree, that viewing populism in this way, can explain how populism can be a feature not only of left or right populist politicians’ talk but also of mainstream ones.

The main feature of mainstream populism as political style, a feature that has been identified in previous research (Simon-Vandenbergen 2008, Mazzoleni 2008) as an interactional feature of right-wing populist politicians’ talk, is attacking the journalist. In particular, politicians may attack journalists by: 1) asking questions instead of answering ones. In that way politicians reverse the interviewer-interviewee roles and instead of being held accountable, politicians ask journalists to do so (account for their questions) and, 2) by attacking journalists on a personal and not institutional level that is, attacking not the appropriacy of the question but the journalist’s right to ask it and/or their level of knowledge (what Luginbühl 2007 calls conversational violence).

By exercising conversational violence, mainstream politicians appropriate features of traditionally conceived populist politicians’ talk into mainstream and use those interactional features to build their political personas (political styles); as fighters who attack the ‘corrupt’

(Greek) journalists by either neutralizing (ignoring) politicians’ attacks or by ‘fighting back’ seem to assist mainstream politicians to build their fighters’ persona. In that way, both politicians and journalists educate the public that populist performance and antagonistic politics is the norm.”

Argyro Kantara, Cardiff University

Johanna Mencke of Göttingen University

Strategies of Populist Discourse on Social Media: The Example of Marion Maréchal-Le Pen – Johanna Mencke

university of gottingen

“Over the past years, social media has gained importance in political competition. Politicians use those platforms to create their own discursive spaces for addressing and mobilising their potential electorate online. In addition, they are able to spread information without any journalistic barriers which allows them to maintain the sovereignty of content-interpretation.

As well as Marine Le Pen, chairwomen of the radical right-wing populist and nationalist party Front National, there is another Le Pen-woman active in French politics – Marion MaréchalLe Pen, niece of the party’s chairwoman and granddaughter of its founder. My analysis shows a specific use of multimodal resources on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as a means of strategic framing of political content. One can analyse her use of searchable hashtags and @mentions as a means of polarization between a fabricated ‘us’ and a negatively connoted ‘them’. Within the group of ‘us’ she identifies political partners such as members of her own party, of other French parties or right-wing populist European parties. On the other hand she uses those techniques referring to members of the so called establishment, such as opponents from other French parties or the EU.

A question that needs to be discussed in this context is whether this polarization articulated by a specific use of @mentions and hashtags, can be defined as mechanisms of populist discourse, or if it is just a ‘normal’ use of social media by politicians in general. ”

– Johanna Mencke, Göttingen University

Marlene Miglbauer of Pädagogische Hochschule Burgenland & Veronika Koller of Lancaster University

How do people explain their decision to vote for right-wing populist parties and causes?: Marlene Miglbauer & Veronika Koller

Hochschule Burgendland
Lancaster University

“Right-(and left-)wing populist parties and policies have become quite successful throughout Europe, opening up a vast field for research. The question in the title is the one we are currently investigating; so far, we have analysed the motivation of British, Austrian and German voters. Also, we are asking if and in how far the topics and value judgements of voters reflect the discourse of right-wing populist politicians and campaigners. In our work, we are analyisng ‘the people’s voice’ – spoken voices in vox pops (e.g. interviews with people in shopping streets) and written statements (as in the comments sections of newspapers).

For the world café, we will focus on supporters of the German party Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany), which won almost 13% in the 2018 General Election. We have analysed more than 500 postings written by AfD voters, which they submitted in answer to the question ‘Why did you vote for the AfD?, asked by the German newspaper Die Zeit on election day. Many voters highlight their background to counter stereotypes about supporters of right-wing parties. Yet, in their argumentation they do refer to populist topics such as migration, Islam, anti-EU feeling and national identity as their motivations to vote AfD. Despite populist reasons and values impacting their voting behaviour though, our analysis shows that voters for right-wing populist parties seem to be more diverse than they used to be.”

– Marlene Miglbauer of Pädagogische Hochschule Burgenland & Veronika Koller of Lancaster University

Prof. Norbert Merkovity of the University of Szeged

Faces of Populism: Prof. Norbert Merkovity

University of Szeged Faculty of Law and Political Sciences

“The economic difficulties that Europe had to face have created a general dissatisfaction among the citizens. Due to the disappointment of the traditional political parties, a new era of populist leaders have emerged in European politics. But what is populism? Who are populists? How does it affect democracy? These frequently asked questions have been answered by many scholars in many different ways. Instead of arguing the altering concept of populism the objective is to investigate how the politicians themselves see populism: how they perceive the connection between democracy and populism, why the populist rhetoric can be successful, and how the media contributes to it.

The politicians’ perception of populism suggests that after all the global phenomenon of populism has many faces with diverse effects on the society. Three different variations of populism can be observed: (1) populism that must be used during political and election campaigns, because politicians and parties want to show difference. This populism could be found mainly in the political sphere and resonates with the electorate. When politicians want to realise what they promised in campaigns then (2) populism is observable in the political and the social sphere, where the electorate will use same phrases. While populism could lead to changes in laws, constitutions, too, therefore, (3) transformative populism will have effects on social, political and media system.

As we can see, there is no good or bad forms of populism, but there are different faces of it that could be used for good or bad purposes.”

Professor Norbert Merkovity, University of Szeged

Ansie Maritz of North-West University

Linguistic Properties of Propaganda: Ansie Maritz

North-West University

“When we as text readers have accurately determined language tools to analyse propaganda, we are better equipped to identify propaganda in advance, before it is used to influence, divide and disadvantage.

By analysing mainly media texts pertaining populist South African leader President Zuma in the Nkandla and Gupta-Bell Pottinger cases one can better understand how language can be used as a propaganda tool in the hand of the different parties involved. It becomes clear how intentionally created phrases such as “white monopoly capital” can be implemented as part of deflection tactics, turning the public’s eyes away from the true perpetrators.

Some of the identified language properties of propaganda entails: string combinations of adjectives and nouns, degrading nouns and adjectives to portray the propagandist’s opponent(s) and repetition of certain concepts. The use of direct and indirect speech is also important as certain propaganda techniques can be found in non-propaganda texts, but cannot be directly ascribed to the author as in propaganda texts.

By using the same approach as the Natural Sciences in an experimental setting where a control group is set up to enhance reliability of the outcome, a control group of texts consisting of non-propaganda texts can be used to test the language analysis conducted on propaganda texts. Already known propaganda techniques can be used as a starting point to identify texts e.g. how role players are portrayed by the author, the factual accuracy of the text and what the aim of the text is (who is the beneficiaries?).”

Ansie Maritz, Lecturer at North-West University


Carolina Silveira of UWS

Co-construction of Scottish National Identity: Carolina Silveira

UWS Logo “Scottish national identity has emerged as a central political issue in recent years. Both the Scottish Independence and European Referendum raised an important question for Scotland: What kind of nation do we want to be? My research focuses on how the politicisation of Scottish national identity is constructed, understood, and performed through comedy. How are political ideas and viewpoints expressed in Scottish stand-up? How are identities and values (re-)produced? This approach sees nationalism as something that has to be continually constructed and ‘performed’ in everyday life. Comedy can be seen both as a ‘social thermometer’ that gages public sentiment, and as a space where ideas can be constructed anew.”

Carolina Silveira, PhD Researcher at University of the West of Scotland

Maria Stopfner of EURAC Research

Alternative facts and the angry citizen: Maria Stopfner

EURAC Research Logo


“Europe has always been multilingual and multicultural. However, faced with new migration flows and increasingly diverse societies, nationalist movements and populist leaders of the far-right resurrect Herder’s ideology of “one people, one state, one language” for their own political goals and gains, threatening social cohesion and transnational solidarity within Europe.

Contrary to extremist political groups, official populist parties still operate within the democratic parliamentary system and try to gain power via elections. In this case, they need to convince the electorate of their political positions. In order to do so, populist parties rely on the charisma of a central political leader and build their reasoning on the fundamental opposition of “us”, the people, versus “them”, consisting of the privileged elite and, in case of far-right populism, also foreigners. What is more, in order to render the electorate more receptive to this ideological stance, populist leaders strategically evoke and utilize emotions. Based on a general call for justice, populist leaders create a positive feeling of togetherness in terms of national, ethnic, and religious identity, social class etc. whilst simultaneously arousing feelings of resentment and anger against “them” that, unfortunately, can turn into irrational personal and social rage against groups of people. In this way, aggravated by online “filter bubbles” (Pariser 2011) and “walled communities” (Ling 2004), alternative facts can become more convincing and powerful than any empirical evidence.”

Maria Stopfner, Senior Researcher at EURAC

Robin McAlpine of Common Weal

Sharing Views on Nationalism & Populism: Robin McAlpine


“I really think the term ‘populism’ is used incredibly loosely. I always point out that people think it is something to do with popularity or playing to popular sentiment. But that’s just not right – the linguistic root is populace not popular. It is about defining part of a society as an opposition to another part of the same society rather than nationalism in which a society is defined in relation (in part) to another, separate society.
So (very loosely), nationalism is ‘us, not them’ while populism is ‘you and me, not him’. There is no need whatsoever for nationalism to be unpleasant or exclusionary or hostile to outsiders. The ‘us, not them’ might simply mean ‘we get to vote and have to pay taxes and you don’t, but you’re more than welcome here’. It’s a way or defining a populace in relation to ‘what is not’ your populace.
Populism is about dividing individual populaces into bits and to seek control through setting one group of people up against another – but another group whom they will regularly encounter (the ‘them’ in nationalism is generally an abstract – we don’t go to war with neighbours that much any more…).

– Robin McAlpine, Director of Common Weal Scotland


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