The first avenue of research explores the constitutive role played by media as everyday sites in both popularizing aggressive ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ narratives and in delegitimizing political elites and mainstream media. Breitbart News and Infowars in the United States, the German-language versions of Sputnik News and RT in Germany and the Daily Mai/ and Daily Express in the United Kingdom in particular will be examined as alternative sources of political meaning-making and how they interact on an inter-subjective level with populist groups and leading figures within these movements.
The second avenue of research will explore articulations of enmity and friendship on the micro-level of the everyday through ethnographic work and semi-structured interviews in order to trace how individual perceptions of threat interact with group dynamics and national and trans-national cultural and political contexts. In addition to observing events in London, Berlin and Washington DC organised by UKIP, the AfD and alt-right members like the National Policy Institute, I will conduct interviews with organisers and activists. The use of social media (Facebook, Twitter) surrounding these events will also be explored to trace how commentators express their political views on these platforms of everyday communication.
The third avenue of research will supplement the qualitative approaches with a quantitative perspective to assess the popular impact of the ‘Populist International’ and its Schmittian vision of domestic and international politics. Large-sample, publically available opinion polls and national and regional election results will be used to assess popular attitudes among ordinary citizens in Germany, the US and the UK regarding perceptions of threat and support for populist positions on immigration, counter-terrorism and foreign policy.