Narrative Identities: The Radical New Right’s Practices of Self-Telling and their Gendered Construction of the Nation

Political Science (University of Bremen)

The project examines the gendered narratives of the so-called radical New Right. Using the concept of narrative identity, it focusses on the practices of self-telling. The project aims to better under the intertwined appeals to gender and nation within the current right-wing mobilizations by considering their autobiographical storytelling. The main thesis is, that the narrative self-interpretations of the radical New Right can be understood as an act of masculinist (re-)sovereignization in the struggles to (re-)define the nation; an attempt to regain the interpretative power by telling stories about and trough gender.

Based on the assumption that right-wing actors in Germany are currently pursuing an authoritarian-national reconstruction of the country, the project demonstrates the significance of gendered narratives for this authoritarian turn. With the approach of narrative identity, it uses a concept, which has so far been developed primarily in philosophy and social psychology for investigating personal identity, and extends it to research on collective identities. Thereby it shows how right-wing politicians use certain constructs of masculinity to make individual as well as collective identity offers, that are well able to elaborate the common sense of the people. Using selected autobiographical texts of the radical New Right, the project shows that their practices of self-telling are gendered in two ways: On the one hand, gendered stories of the nation are told; on the other hand, the storytelling itself can be understood as a masculinist and sovereignizing practice.

The Persistence of Neoliberalism’s Hegemony

Sociology (Kiel University)

This work delves into the paradox of neoliberal capitalism’s continued dominance despite facing critique and crises. It critically assesses the limitations of existing literature that prematurely proclaims neoliberalism’s demise, particularly in the context of its persistence through global challenges such as the Covid-19-pandemic and financial crises. The concept of hegemony takes center stage, highlighting its crucial role in shaping societal norms and constraining alternative visions. Employing Political Discourse Theory (PDT), specifically drawing from Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s contributions, the study offers a comprehensive exploration of change and hegemony within the neoliberal framework. Alongside theoretical insights, the research conducts empirical analyses of nearly 300,000 tweets from 2020-2023, examining the intersections of neoliberalism, the pandemic, and global protest movements marked by populist characteristics. Neoliberal capitalism is portrayed as a hegemonic force molding discursive structures that impact societal perceptions and behaviors. The analysis delves into the apparent contradiction between neoliberalism's perceived crisis mode and its resilience, emphasizing the role of crises in revitalizing and restructuring its hegemonic influence. The examination of crises encompasses both economic and discursive perspectives, shedding light on neoliberalism's adaptive capacity. Despite widespread calls for change and wealth redistribution during global protests from Chile and France to Thailand, the discursive system of neoliberalism remained remarkably stable. The overarching objective is to unravel the intricate discursive processes that underpin neoliberalism's persistence, contributing to a nuanced understanding of this multifaceted socio-economic phenomenon.

Performing Populism in Democracy: On the Relationship between Right-Wing Populist Performativity(ies) and Representative Democracy

Political Science (Kiel University)

In her doctoral thesis, Lena Weige analyzes the relationship between right-wing populist performativity and representative democracy from a political theory perspective. The starting-point for her considerations is a multidimensional understanding of populism as a political phenomenon, whereby the focus is on the dimension of populism as political performance. With the concept of performance, she goes beyond the concept of populism as a political style developed by Benjamin Moffitt by also asking about the narrative structure of (right-wing) populist performances based on Filipe Carreira da Silva and Monica Brito Vieira’s concept of populism as political logic. Lena Weige develops her concept of right-wing populist performance as well as the concept of right-wing populist performativity by drawing on the diverse literature from the field of performance studies in the first part of her doctoral thesis. She is particularly interested in the question of the characteristics or typologization of right-wing populist performance and performativity. Are there different forms of right-wing populist performativity and, if so, how do they differ? In the second part of her doctoral thesis, she looks at the relationship between right-wing populist performativity and representative democracy. First, she deals with the contradictions and tensions within representative democracy itself before examining, in a second step, how right-wing populist performativity(ies) change(s) the rules of representative democracy and contribute(s) to a normalization of radical to extreme right-wing ideologemes.

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