Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) Research

Popular Culture and Populism

Lecture series
Pop and Populism logo bar

Political populism builds on a world-view based on the antagonistic opposition of ‘the good people’ and the ‘corrupt elite’, and is often connected to ideologies such as nativism, misogyny, authoritarianism and racism.

In their attempt to redefine cultural hegemony, populists make use of cultural strategies. Indeed, radical right-wing populism and popular culture are closely connected; populist leaders, parties and movements often explicitly draw on popular cultural means to disseminate their ideologies, for instance, by using social media, internet memes, and computer games.

But they also increasingly act as popular culture celebrities: Trump’s presidency has been described as being a “reality show from the White House”, Boris Johnson's campaign released post-ironic “Boriswave” and a Love Actually parody. Populist parties like the Sweden Democrats, the 5-Star Movement in Italy, Fidesz in Hungary and the Polish Law & Justice Party (PiS) organize music festivals and family picnics.

In turn, popular culture increasingly reflects populist ideas and affords populist interpretations, as illustrated by hip hop artists disseminating Corona-related conspiracy theories in Dutch mainstream media, or Hollywood productions as The Joker (2019) becoming touchstones for the alt-right.

This interdisciplinary online lecture series brings together leading scholars and practitioners from different disciplinary backgrounds (Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Popular Music Studies, Sociology, Political Science) to give insights into the various forms of interactions between populism, the radical right and popular culture.

Dates and locations

Location: Online via Zoom

Dates: 9 September 2021 - 28 October 2021 (see programme below)


Registration is required for each individual lecture. After registration, you will receive the Zoom link via email.

Register: send an email to popandpopulism


Dr Melanie Schiller (Media Studies & Popular Music)

Dr Léonie de Jonge (European Politics & Society)

Dr Elizaveta Gaufman (Russian Discourse & Politics)

The Groningen Institute for the Study of Culture ( ICOG ); the Research Center for Arts in Society Research ( AiS ); the Research Centre for the Study of Democratic Cultures and Politics ( DemCP ) and the Research Project “ Popular Music and the Rise of Populism in Europe ” (financed by the Volkswagen Foundation).

Volkswagen Stifting logo


Date, time (CEST)
Speaker Title
Mario Dunkel (University of Oldenburg) Listening for Populism in European Popular Music video
John Street (University of East Anglia) Populism, popular culture and celebrity politics video
Eviane Leidig (International Centre for Counter-Terrorism) Reject modernity, Embrace traditionalism: Gendered narratives in alt-right online recruitment and radicalization


Ruth Wodak (University of Vienna) Analyzing the Shameless Normalization of ‘Message Control’ – the Austrian Case video
Benjamin Moffitt (National School of Arts in Melbourne) Populism, Performance and Popular Culture video
Nicole Curato (University of Canberra) The Spectacle of the Strongman video
Arne Vogelgesang Games Within Games: Gamification and entertainment as political weapons in right-wing culture war video
Pop and Populism poster. On the left is the programme. On the right is a drawing by Eva Vázquez. A black and white image of an ancient roman column lies in shards. Seven people are around it with tools, attempting to clean it up and/or repair it. The bottom of the poster contains information on the organizers.


Please contact us at popandpopulism

Follow us on twitter: @PopAndPopulism

Last modified:16 December 2021 3.26 p.m.