Tuesday 22 October 2019

Researching populism and democratic efficacy through social media: methodological challenges

Part of the Horizon 2020 ProjectDEMOS:
Democratic Efficacy and Populism in Europe

16.00-18.00 (registration from 15.40)
European Digital SME Alliance, Rue du Commerce 123, 1000 Brussels


The European Commission Horizon 2020-funded project DEMOS: Democratic Efficacy and Varieties of Populism explores how populist discourse has an impact on voters through populist leaders’ creative ways of using social media.

Considering the 2019 European Parliament elections, a consortium of researchers from around Europe will share their first findings at this workshop, hosted by the European Digital SME Alliance. The panel will illustrate the methodological challenges involved in researching relationships between the role of social media in populist discourse on the one hand, and socio-economic determinants and political efficacy on the other.

About the project

The DEMOS research project is built on the assumption that populism is symptomatic of a disconnect between how democratic polities operate and how citizens perceive their own aspirations, needs and identities within the political system. As such, DEMOS explores the empirical value of ‘democratic efficacy’ as the condition of political engagement needed to address the challenge of populism. The project focuses not only on the polity, but equally on citizens’ perspectives: how they are affected by, and how they react to, populism.

As populism has varying socially embedded manifestations, DEMOS aims to contextualise it through comparative analysis of the variety of populisms across Europe, including their communicative manifestations on social media (Facebook). This workshop will present preliminary findings suggesting that populist leaders’ political communication in oppositions highlights the low political efficacy of the political system, while populist leaders in government promote and communicate measures – that sometimes backfire – aimed at making policy corrections towards increasing political efficacy. In the process, unfortunately, they also often attempt at removing or weakening traditional constitutional checks and ballances that they see as obstacles to their policies.


16.00                Welcome & introduction

Paul Butcher, Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre (Moderator)

16.05                Populist discourse in the UK and Turkey

Umut Korkut, Professor, Glasgow School for Business and Society, Glasgow, UK

16.20                Studying Populism on Social Media: Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Romania

Andrej Školkay and Igor Daniš, School of Communication and Media, Bratislava, Slovakia

16.35                Studying Populism on Social Media: The case of Lithuania

Eglė Butkevičienė, Vice-Dean for Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Kaunas University of Technology Kaunas, Lithuania

16.50                 Roundtable discussion

17.50                  Lessons learned and tentative policy recommendations

 Paul Butcher, Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre (Moderator)

18.00                 End


We hope to see you on 22 October at 4 p.m.!
To RSVP, please contact Igor Daniš, the project’s communication officer at the School of Communication and Media: