Within the framework of its activities, the POPULISMUS research project has organized a three-day international methodological workshop aiming at an in-depth exploration of important theoretical, methodological and analytical issues related to the analysis of populist discourse. The workshop took place at the Aristotle University Research Dissemination Centre from the 11th to the 13th of July 2014 with the participation of international and Greek scholars specializing in the area of the project and its methodology.
The international workshop was designed and operated on the basis of achieving three inter-implicated aims:
- Concluding, first of all, the methodological training of the members of the research team on a series of discourse analysis techniques and socio-political analysis methods able to provide research tools facilitating the comparative mapping and interpretation of populist discourse in a global perspective.
- Finalizing, through scientific exchange, our main research questions and hypotheses as well as developing a rigorous methodological strategy (with reference to the conceptual and theoretical apparatus of the Essex School) in preparation for the next stages of the project.
- Linking contemporary populism research with broader research orientations in the social sciences and humanities by targetting and attracting new researchers and advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as addressing the wider public sphere through a consistent dissemination strategy.
In support of the aims of the workshop, the POPULISMUS research team has drafted an internal technical report designed to chart the research trajectory to be followed in the project, to highlight the main research questions to be explored and to put forward some guiding threads (axial hypotheses, conceptual orientations, etc.). This report offered a starting point for debate in the international workshop, facilitating the exchange of good research practices and generating important feedback for its following stages.
Speakers included distinguished researchers from European universities, such as Jason Glynos from Essex University, Aurelien Mondon from the University of Bath and the keynote speaker of the event and founding figure of the Essex School of discourse analysis, Chantal Mouffe, Professor of Political Theory at the University of Westminster. From the Greek academic scene, apart from the members of the POPULISMUS research team, a series of acclaimed Greek scholars have participated, including Professor Nicholas Demertzis, Director of the National Centre for Social Research (EKKE) and many members of the Aristotle University staff from a variety of departments and disciplines.
Presentations covered a broad range of topics, from the methodological tools discourse studies and linguistics can offer to political analysis to the contributions of the sociology of emotions to the study of populism; and from an assessment of extreme right-wing populism at the European level to the contemporary crisis of democracy and the historical trajectories of both left-wing and right-wing populism(s) in comparative perspective.