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Inaugural lecture Mr Prof L. Rensmann: Cosmopolitan Europe and its Discontents: Mapping Political Cleavages and Conflicts in 21st Century Europe

When:Tu 09-05-2017 at 16:15
Where:Aula Academy Building, Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Lars Rensmann
Lars Rensmann

“Europe” - as an idea, an institutional political framework, and an arena of democratic polities and politics - undoubtedly faces a profound crisis today. It is epitomized in a variety of new and unresolved challenges, from welfare state regress and economic disparities to issues of refugee and migration policy, from social value conflicts to security threats related to terrorism. First and foremost, European societies, in sync with global trends, have to cope with significantly increased levels of social and political polarization. The rise of “illiberal” authoritarian populist actors and movements, which themselves benefit from and foster dramatic narratives of “crisis”, “decline” and “emergency” while opposing established politics and media, may be both a symptom of these challenges - and a factor contributing to them.

Against this backdrop, the lecture identifies a trans-national reconfiguration of political conflicts in European democracies. In the electorate, a new, social value-based divide between (liberal-)cosmopolitanism and authoritarian-nationalist “anti-cosmopolitanism” has taken shape that increasingly dominates patterns of political behavior. By now, the latter also translates into rising skepticism toward democracy among younger generational cohorts - until recently driving broader social value change towards inclusive post-material values.

In electoral politics, four particular types of political actors mobilize and reinforce this new great divide. Mapping the cleavages and actors reshaping European politics is part of the task of explaining the rise of illiberal discontent and exclusivist nativism. The complex project of understanding the origins and causes of these new conflicts, and in particular of the nativist turn against the very idea and reality of cosmopolitan Europe, requires historical and political science research in different societal arenas. It also calls for critical theorizing of the dynamics of societal exclusion, resentment, and authoritarian politics.

More information

  • Inaugural lecture: Mr Prof L. Rensmann
  • Title: Cosmopolitan Europe and its Discontents: Mapping Political Cleavages and Conflicts in 21st Century Europe
  • Chair: European Politics and Society
  • Faculty: Arts
  • Register at the latest one week in advance by returning the replycard or by filling in this form
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