Populist Backlash, Democratic Backsliding, and the Crisis of the Rule of Law in the European Union (POPBACK)
Subject of research
The project POPBACK studies the mechanisms ‘exclusionary populist’ movements use to increase their power by undermining the Rule of Law (RoL) and eroding the divide between the public and private domains in law, the economy, and the media. They investigate the factors that make states vulnerable or resilient to such strategies and how societal actors seek to cope with them.
Three work packages
A first work package focuses on the legal-constitutional aspects of exclusionary populism and seeks to quantitatively establish and explain cross-country differences in the decline in the RoL. A second one focuses on the firm-level to investigate the mechanisms exclusionary populists use to erode the public-private divide between the political and the economic domains. Finally, the third one will explore populist media strategies as a mechanism of the erosion of the public-private range, including populists’ discursive strategies and attempts to change mediascapes.
Five International Policy Fellowships
They compare Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, United Kingdom, and Turkey, all of which have experienced populist success but differ regarding their institutional structures, permitting comparison. They also engage with a non-academic audience through five International Policy Fellowships created by the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP) and the broader public through a participatory stage performance.
Professor Dr. Gerhard Schnyder, Loughborough University (UK)
Prof. Dr. Gerhard Schnyder (Ph.D. Lausanne) is a Professor of International Management & Political Economy and the Director of the Institute for International Management at Loughborough University London. Previous to his appointment at LU LND, he worked as a Reader at King’s College London (2009-2017) and as a Research Fellow at the Universities of Bath, Cambridge, and SOAS, University of London. In addition, he has obtained several research fellowships from the Swiss National Science Foundation and a large grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Prof. Schnyder is interested in how the interplay between legal-institutional and political factors shapes firm-level corporate governance practices and strategies. His research also touches on the role of the state and liberal and non-liberal ideas on processes of institutional change in national business systems. His current work focuses on state-business relations and the political economy of populism, in particular in emerging market contexts.
Dr. Dorottya Sallai, London School of Economics (UK)
Dr. Dorottya Sallai completed her doctoral research in Management at King’s College London. Her Ph.D. focused on the Europeanisation of corporate lobbying in the enlarged European Union. In her research, she investigates state-firm relations, corporate political activities from comparative capitalism, and the impact of different institutional and political systems on firms and their non-market strategies. Currently, she is interested in the effects of exclusionary populists and authoritarian regimes on businesses and national business systems. Dr. Sallai has extensive management and consulting experience. She has worked with private and public sector organizations, governments, companies, NGOs, and the European Commission, providing consultancy in EU affairs, public policy, and pan-European evaluation and research projects. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Founding Chair of the Women and Gender Forum at the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE).
Professor Dr. Barbara Blaszczyk, Polish Academy of Sciences (Poland)
Since 1983 Prof. Dr. Barbara Blaszczyk has worked for the Institute of Economics of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) in different positions, now as a professor of economics and chairperson of the Scientific Board of the Institute. Furthermore, she was co-founder of the CASE Center for Social and Economic Research in Warsaw (1991), a think tank devoted to supporting the transition process. She was president of the CASE Foundation from 1991 to 2004 and since 2006 Deputy Chairwoman of the Council of the Foundation. From 2004 to 2012, she also worked as a professor at the Nowy Sącz School of Business – National Louis University (WSBNLU). Between 1989-1996 she was an advisor to the Polish government and the Parliament on privatization issues. Significantly, she took part in drafting the 1990 privatization law, and she participated in preparing the section on employee share ownership. Between 1991-1996 she was the Deputy Chairperson of the Council of Ownership Changes at the prime minister. Between 2002 – 2005, she was a member of the Council of the Social and Economic Strategy at the Council of Ministers. In addition, she was a consultant and referee for the ACE Phare Project and the World Bank. Her main fields of research interest are privatization, corporate governance, regulation of the state enterprise sector, and general institutional order of the economy and its changes (especially in countries in transition). Previous interests include employee share ownership and industrial democracy. Her additional field of interest was the process of enlargement of the European Union and the economic and social reforms in the countries of E.U. She is an author of over 150 publications in books and journals. In recent years her main research topic has been the reversal of economic and political order in Poland and other former transition countries toward an authoritarian and populist system. She tries to understand the sources of backsliding and investigate the gradual systemic changes that lead to a system that is no longer controlled by the rule of law.
Professor Dr. Birgit Sauer, University of Vienna (Austria)
Prof. Dr. Birgit Sauer is a professor of political science at the University of Vienna. Her research fields include right-wing populism and media, comparative gender equality policies, democracy, and politics of emotions and affects. She was a member of several EU research projects, including right-wing populism and media, gender and right-wing populism, violence against women, gender, migration, and religion. She also researched affective state transformation. Recent publications include Mojca Pajnik and Birgit Sauer (eds.): Populism and the Web. Communicative Practices of Parties and Movements in Europe, London: Routledge 2017; Otto Penz and Birgit Sauer: Governing Affects: Neoliberalism, Neo-Bureaucracies, and Service Work, Routledge 2020; Stefanie Mayer, Iztok Sori, and Birgit Sauer: Gendering "the people": heteronormativity and, "ethno-masochism" in populist imaginery, in Raniera, Maria (Hg.), Populism, Media, and Education. Challenging discrimination in contemporary digital societies, London/New York (Routledge), 2016 (together with), 84-104.
Dr. Mojca Pajnik, Peace Institute (Slovenia)
Dr. Mojca Pajnik is a research counselor at the Peace Institute. She earned her Ph.D. in communications in 2005 at the University of Ljubljana. Her recent books include Populism and the Web: Communicative Practices of Parties and Movements in Europe (ed. with B. Sauer, Routledge, 2018), Contesting Integration, Engendering Migration: Theory and Practice (ed. with F. Anthias, Palgrave, 2014), and Racism: Cut Up World (ed. with E. Valenčič, Journal for the Critique of Science, 2015). She is the author of several articles and chapters on citizenship, migration regimes, racism, gender (in)equality, and media. She is an editorial board member of Migration and Ethnic Themes, Global Media and Communication, Journal of Alternative and Community Media, and Družboslovne razprave. She has been a guest lecturer and researcher at the University of Florence, the Central European University in Budapest, the University of Helsinki, and Loughborough University. She is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, the University of Ljubljana, where she teaches at the study programs on communications and media.
Professor Dr. Simon Deakin, University of Cambridge (UK)
Prof. Dr. Simon Deakin is a Director of the Centre for Business Research and Professor of Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge. He specializes in the economics of law and empirical legal studies, particularly in labor law, private law, and corporate governance. Prof. Dr. Deakin is a Fellow of the British Academy and has received the ECGI and Allen & Overy prizes for his research on corporate governance. In addition, he has carried out consultancy and contract research for numerous governments, international organizations, companies, business associations, trade unions, and NGOs.
Professor Dr. Andreas Nölke, Goethe Universität Frankfurt (Germany)
Prof. Dr. Andreas Nölke is a Professor of Political Science at Goethe University (Frankfurt) and heads a research group at the Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE. Before joining Goethe University, he has taught at the universities of Konstanz, Leipzig, Amsterdam, and Utrecht. His main research areas are at the intersection of comparative and international political economy, including the political economy of emerging economies, the political dimensions of financialization, the institutions of the German export model, the politics of European economic (dis-)integration, and the political economy of populism. He has published in journals such as the Review of International Political Economy, New Political Economy, World Politics, Business and Politics, International Politics, Competition and Change, the European Journal of International Relations, Critical Perspectives on International Business, the Review of African Political Economy, the Socio-Economic Review and the Journal of Common Market Studies. Andreas also served as a consultant of development cooperation, mainly for the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the European Commission, and the World Bank.
Professor Dr. Burçe Çelik, Loughborough University London (UK)
Prof. Dr. Burçe Çelik’s received her doctoral degree from McGill University, Department of Art History and Communications. Her research interests are the history of communications in the Middle East, politics of communications and information, infrastructures and uses of media, and transnational creative classes. She has authored a monograph on cellphone cultures, titled Technology and National Identity: Mobile Communications and the Evolution of a Post-Ottoman Nation (IBTauris, 2011), and several articles in peer-reviewed journals on the history of the telephone, digital media and politics, surveillance, and resistance of digital Kurds. Her current research is focused on the history of communications and struggles in the post-Ottoman socio-technical contexts. This research extends her previous research on the history of telecommunication in Turkey between the 19th and 20th centuries, funded by the Turkish Science and Technology Association (TUBITAK). In addition, Burçe has recently received funding from European Endowment for Democracy for her project entitled "Women’s Memory and Media in Turkey."
Professor Dr. Geoffrey Hodgson, Loughborough University London (UK)
Prof. Dr. Geoffrey Hodgson is a specialist in institutional and evolutionary economics with a background in economics, philosophy, and mathematics. His research has applications to the understanding of organizations, organizational change, innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development. Hodgson is also the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Institutional Economics (ABS rank 3). He has published 18 academic books and over 150 academic articles, and he is the winner of the Schumpeter Prize 2014 for his book on "Conceptualizing Capitalism." Geoffrey has honorary doctorates from the Russian Academy of Sciences and the University Of Thessaly, Greece.
Helena Botto, University of Roehampton (UK)
Helena Botto (PT/DE/UK) is a performer and maker working between London and Berlin. She is a Ph.D. candidate (start January 2019) at the School of Arts – Drama, Theatre and Performance – in London at the University of Roehampton. She holds a fellowship from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, from Portugal. In her practice-as-research thesis, she has been exploring the performativity of acts of populist political rhetoric, ways of fictional writing, and the thinking of democracy as an 'improper,' monstrous, and dissonant space. In 2015 she received her MA in Solo/Dance/Authorship (Distinction) from the Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz Berlin (HZT) / Universität der Kunst Berlin (UDK). Her background is in physical theatre: methodology of physical actions, Jerzy Grotowski’s art as a vehicle. From 1997 to 2005, she performed and co-directed projects in Acto (PT) within this framework.
Marlene Radl, University of Vienna (Austria)
Marlene Radl is a Ph.D. candidate. She holds a MA in political science and a bachelor’s degree in developmental studies and economics from the University of Vienna. Her master thesis dealt with the interconnectedness of authoritarian shifts and gender political backlashes in Western democracies. Her research interests are:
- Feminist Political Economy
- Feminist State Theory
- Critical Theory
- Right-wing Populism
- Media populism
Dr. Iztok Šori, Peace Institute (Slovenia)
Dr. Iztok Šori, Ph.D. in Sociology (Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, 2012), is a director and a researcher at the Peace Institute. He is particularly interested in the intersection of gender, migration, and work, which he researches within different social fields (sex work, politics, private lives). He has participated in several research projects that addressed gender equality, political representation, emancipation, prostitution, trafficking in persons, racism, populism, migration, and lifestyles. In 2015 he published a book Being Single: Between the Ideology of Family and Ideology of Choice (Aristej).
Dr. Marko Ribać, Peace Institute (Slovenia)
Dr. Marko Ribać is currently employed as an assistant and a researcher of The Peace Institute. He started working at The Peace Institute as a young researcher and a Ph.D. student in 2014, and he defended his doctoral thesis in 2018 (Communication Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Ljubljana). Besides social, political, and communication theories, his main research topics range from mediatization of everyday life and political, journalistic, and economic sphere transformations to popular protests and social movements.
Dr. Lana Zdravković, Peace Institute (Slovenia)
Dr. Lana Zdravković (Ph.D. in Philosophy with the thesis »Politics of emancipation: thought-practice of the militant subject, «2013) is a researcher, publicist, political activist, and artist. Fields of research interest include political engagement, radical equality, emancipatory praxes, thought-practice of the militant subject. She works as a researcher at the Peace Institute, Institute for Contemporary Social and Political Studies. She occasionally publishes and collaborates within Slovene media: Dialogi – Magazine for Culture and Society, ČKZ – Journal for the Criticism of Science and New Anthropology, Borec – Journal for History, Anthropology and Literatures, Delo, Dnevnik, Večer, Mladina, Tribuna, Radio Student Ljubljana, Radio Student Maribor, and the Media Watch journal where she is also a member of the editorial board. In addition, she is a performer and co-founder of the KITCH Institute of Art Production and Research. Fields of artistic interest include neo-liberalization and economization of the art, political performance, pornography and art, kitsch, and trash art.
Tjaša Turnšek, Peace Institute (Slovenia)
Tjaša Turnšek, master of cultural studies, is a research assistant at the Peace Institute. She obtained her master’s degree at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana with the thesis Critical Discourse Analysis: Media Representation of the Refugee awarded by the »Klinarjev sklad« Award. In 2017 she published a scientific article in co-authorship in Časopis za kritiko znanosti – Hate Speech. In addition, she has participated in research projects that addressed critical discourse analysis and media representation, focusing on the discrimination of specific target groups (refugees and foreigners). She is particularly interested in media, populism, and the securitization of migration.
Magdo Chuchracka, Peace Institute (Slovenia)
Magdo Chuchracka is a Ph.D. candidate and research assistant at the Institute for Political Science at Goethe University in Frankfurt Main. They hold a bachelor’s degree and MA in China Studies, obtained at the Freie Universität Berlin. They are currently working on their second MA in Media Studies at the Technical University of Berlin. Their primary focus is on queer rights, gender, feminism, right-wing populism, and digital media, especially social media and Internet culture. They are also a queer-feminist activist involved with a Berlin-based collective, Constellation of Liberation. Magdo also holds a professional dancer’s diploma and applies their theoretical knowledge and professional experience to deconstruct the understanding of human bodies and gender in dance and beyond.
Dr. Fanni Toth, Loughborough University London (UK)
Dr. Fanni Toth is a Postdoctoral Research Associate working on the case study of Hungarian media and communications systems and journalistic practices for the POPBACK project at the Institute for Media and Creative Industries (IMCI) at Loughborough University London. Since 2019, Fanni has also worked as a Research Associate for the “Illiberal Turn” project at the School of Social Sciences, Loughborough University. Fanni’s research interests concentrate on democratization, political attitudes, Europeanisation, public administration, and public policy, with a regional focus on Eastern Europe. Fanni holds an ESRC-funded Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Nottingham. Her thesis examined the transformative power of the European Union on political attitudes in post-communist Europe, considering the impact on support for democracy and the EU. It was awarded the British Political Studies Association’s Lord Bryce Prize for best dissertation in comparative politics. Fanni has also collaborated on other research projects, including the EU Competencies Project – a new index of the Europeanisation of policy based on an expert survey – and the British Academy and DfID Anti-Corruption Evidence Programme.
Melek Küçükuzun, Loughborough University London (UK)
Melek Küçükuzun is a doctoral researcher at the Institute for Media and Creative Industries, Loughborough University London. She carries out the case study on the Turkish media system for the POPBACK Project. Previously, she participated in research design, fieldwork, analysis, and report writing phases of several SAM Research and Consulting projects in Turkey. Melek had a double major in public relations, political science, and international relations at Bahcesehir University. After obtaining an MA degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Lund University, she started her second MA at the Department of Gender Studies, Central European University. Melek’s primary academic interests concern the political economy of populism, performativity, ethics, gender, and sexuality. Her Ph.D. research explores media ethics, institutional logic, and authoritarian populism.
Professor Dr. Daniel Kinderman, University of Delaware (USA)
Prof. Dr. Daniel Kinderman, Ph.D. (Cornell University, 2011), joined the University of Delaware in 2011. He specializes in comparative and international political economy and corporate social responsibility (CSR), with a geographical focus on Europe. He teaches courses on European politics, the European Union (EU), corporate social responsibility, comparative political economy, and international political economy. His current research focuses on business responses to right-wing populism, the impact of responsible business associations on the CSR performance of their member companies, and the relationship between CSR and political-economic institutions. Professor Kinderman has been a visiting scholar at the Social Science Research Center (WZB) in Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany.