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Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) Research Research centres Research Centre for Arts in Society

Pop and Populism - ARNE VOGELGESANG: "Games Within Games: Gamification and entertainment as political weapons in right-wing culture war"

When:Th 28-10-2021 16:00 - 18:00
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.

POPulism: Popular Culture and Populism is an interdisciplinary online lecture series that brings together leading international scholars and practitioners from different disciplinary backgrounds to give insights into the various forms of interactions between populism, the radical right, and popular culture.

Populism builds on a worldview 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; 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.

From popular music, performance, and celebrity politics, to normalization, online recruitment, and mobilization, the speakers of POPulism explore the relationship between culture and populism, unpacking how it can both promote and challenge populist and radical right discourses.


Commonly, we speak of “gamification” when typical elements of gameplay mechanics are employed as motivators in non-game contexts. While this technique has been used economically for bolstering customer retention and employee productivity, it has also become an increasingly important aspect of political culture. Especially internet savvy communities use game elements and game-like entertainment formats for shaping and structuring their relationship with reality – and thus their political practice.

This talk looks at three examples of how game metaphors and systems have been used as a legitimizing and galvanizing frame in German-speaking reactionary and far-right communities. Put into context with other international phenomena, these examples may help to get a more nuanced idea of a broader tendency to “game” parts of political discourse, to reframe it as entertainment and also to gamify political mobilization.

About the speaker

As a founding member of theatre label internil, and under his own name, Arne Vogelgesang has been devising theatre & performance projects since 2005. He is interested in new forms of radical political subjectivation online and the narratives and memetic fields they embed themselves into. Arne also makes videos, experiments with 3D media, gives talks & workshops on his research topics, and occasionally writes a text. His Twitter handle is @foyglgezang.


Registration is required. After registration, you will receive the Zoom link via email.

Register: send an email to popandpopulism