International Populism Research Network


The International Populism Research Network is based in the Political Theory, History of Ideas and Political Culture section at Kiel University (CAU Kiel). It serves as a platform to facilitate international exchange and initiate publication and research projects on the subject of populism.

The network’s activities are centered on new theoretical, qualitative and quantitative approaches to studying the phenomenon of populism worldwide.


It is open to other social science and humanities disciplines beyond the field of political science, such as sociology, philosophy, cultural, media and literature studies, ethnology, visual studies, performance studies, law and history.


The International Populism Research Network organizes academic events (both in-person and online) at CAU Kiel and in collaboration with partner institutes. These include academic conferences, workshops and panels at national and international conferences, international teaching collaborations and events for the general public.


The International Populism Research Network conducts its own research projects and supports doctoral and post doc projects.


It disseminates its research findings in the form of scientific publications and publicizes the core work of its partner organizations.


To give its activities additional visibility, the International Populism Research Network also communicates with the broader public.

Interview of Paula Diehl 

“Populists know how to use the media”

© 2024 LatAm Journalism Review | Photo credit: Alan Santos/Presidency of Brazil

In this interview for LatAm Journalism Review, Paula Diehl talks about the structural affinity between the populist communication of politicians like Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro and Javier Milei and the media’s selection criteria. The media become accomplices of populist actors, she argues, because populism generates public attention.

Award for Social Science Essays

Nomination of Brigitte Bargetz and Nina Elena Eggers

We congratulate PD Dr Brigitte Bargetz and Nina Elena Eggers on their nomination for the Fritz Thyssen Foundation Prize for Social Science Essays of the Year 2023.

The two members of the network were nominated by the journal Politische Vierteljahreszeitschrift (PVS) for their article „Affektive Narrative: Theorie und Kritik politischer Vermittlungsweisen" ("Affective Narratives: Theory and Critique of Political Mediation"), where they conceptualize the intertwining of narratives and feelings in the realm of the political and demonstrate its meaning by using the example of Björn Höcke's right-wing populist mobilization. Fingers crossed for the award ceremony!

CAll For papers

Political Ideologies: Tracing the History of Concepts and Languages in a Global Context

The 25th International Conference of the History of Concepts Group (HCG) is scheduled to take place in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It will be hosted by the Rui Barbosa Foundation and the Institute of Social and Political Studies at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (IESP-UERJ). 

The main theme for this year’s conference is ideologies, with a particular emphasis on the historical construction of the concepts structuring political ideologies.

Submission deadline: May 19th 

New publication of Paula Diehl and BRIGITTE BARGETZ (eds.)

The Complexity of Populism – New Approaches and Methods

Much as populism has been researched, it remains a contested notion without coherent definition and methodology, and shaped by dimensions such as ideology, communication style, discourse, mobilization, and organization. It has simultaneously mobilized emotions, produced symbols, and affected subjectivity and gender relations and can manifest itself in different ways and appear in hybrid forms, such as in the cases of Silvio Berlusconi, Hugo Chávez, and Donald Trump.

With chapters by Paula Diehl, Carlos de la Torre, Birgit Sauer, Brigitte Bargetz, Stefan Bird-Pollan, Federico Finchelstein, Giorgia Bulli, Martin Reisigl, Mojca Pajnik, Till Weber.

The book was published on July 3, 2023 and can be ordered here.

Open Access: Mojca Pajnik: Transformations of the Media Sphere. Amplifying Opportunity Structures for Populism

New Publication of Günter Frankenberg and Wilhelm Heitmeyer (eds.)

Divers of Authoritarianism – Paths of Developments at the Beginning of the Twenty-first Century

There are serious threats to pluralistic societies and modern democracies. Authoritarian temptations have become increasingly visible. On the part of regimes, the mechanisms come to bear in statecraft, repression, and rhetoric; on the part of social movements, in agendas and strategies; and on the part of populations, in their patterns of thought, orientations to action, and readiness to follow. Who or which forces are driving authoritarian developmental thrusts: Are they social, economic or political crises, the controlling interests of finance capital or deficits in democracy?

With chapters by Brigitte Bargetz, Kai Biermann, Oliver Decker, Paula Diehl, Klaus Dörre, Nina Elena Eggers, Günter Frankenberg, Klaus Günther, Wilhelm Heitmeyer, Maximilian Pichl, Lars Rensmann, Dieter Rucht, Birgit Sauer, Bernd Stegemann, Natascha Strobl, Volker Weiß, Michael Zürn.

Project (February 2022 - December 2023)

Normalizing the Far Right

How do antidemocratic ideas, imagination, attitudes, social practices, and affective politics become socially acceptable and how do they affect identity formation? Are there common normalization mechanisms that traverse all these aspects of social life? Do they pervade different realms of politics and society such as political communication, media, culture, law, etc. in the same way? And what are the resistance strategies to this normalization in politics and civil society? 

Project directors: Paula Diehl, Birgit Sauer

ZDF – MAITHINK Xperts: Populism

Populism in Politics and the Media

What characterises populist rhetoric? When does it become a threat to democracy? Why is it compatible with the media's attention economy? Paula Diehl talks about populism in politics and in the media at MaiThink. 

© 2024 MaiThink ZDF

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