Eight million for research project on populism in the Nordic region

In February, the Research Council of Norway announced funding for research projects for young talents. The upper funding limit was eight million kroner, which is exactly what Liv Sunnercrantz's project was awarded.

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Liv will be researching populism in the media.

Polarisation, Affect, Identity: Nordic Populism and the Media Landscape

The project, entitled "Polarization, Affect, Identity: Nordic Populism and the Media Landscape", will spend three years researching populism in the media, investigating identity building, modes of identification and processes in the media.

- We will be researching the identification on which populism is based, which is very much about 'us against them', i.e. us against the elite. In order to understand this, we'll be looking at constructions and how they are built up with the help of what we call affect," says Sunnercrantz.

Sunnercrantz explains that affect can be understood both as emotions, but also something called affective investment. By appealing to emotions that create a sense of unity and belonging, populist leaders, parties and movements can shape oppositions between 'us' and 'the others'.

- It can mean how you want to charge a term with emotional connotations, for example to make someone hate something. We're going to look at how this is used in the media, how these connotations are spread. Then it's also interesting to see how it moves from the margins via the discourse to become mainstream.

Focus on rhetoric in the media

The research project uses a rhetorical performative analysis, and assumes that politics is something you do. Rhetoric is about convincing someone of something. Sunnercrantz says that it is therefore important to focus on rhetorical practice.

- Populism is a way of doing politics, and rhetoric is a very important part of it. When you convince someone of something, you will in many ways constitute the picture of reality or the description of it.

Much of the research on populism is about affect and people. It's not just about people's individual emotions, but how to use personal engagement.

- There is little research on populism in Norway from this perspective. There is a greater focus on populist parties, for example, but not on how populism is something that happens in a mainstream discourse or mainstream media. Most research is done on the fringes when it comes to populism, but it happens all the time. Also in the mainstream media. There is a need for research there," says Sunnercrantz.

Most research is done on the fringes when it comes to populism, but it happens all the time. Also in the mainstream media. There is a need for research there.

Liv Åsa-Maria Sunnercrantz , associate professor of political science at UiS.

The project will be based on the last five years. Part of the research process is to start somewhere and dig deeper from there. Sunnercrantz explains that they first have to find out what the relevant media channels are in the different countries.

Liv Åsa-Maria Sunnercrantz i blå jakke foran et tre på campus.
Liv Sunnercrantz receives NOK 8 million for her research project "Olarization, Affect, Identity: Nordic Populism and the Media Landscape".

Involving journalism students in Norway and Sweden

Part of the project will involve journalism education at both the University of Stavanger and Stockholm University. The aim is for the students to contribute to the research, as well as to understand the role of journalists when it comes to populism in the media.

- The reason we include journalism students is so that they can help us, but also so that we can help them to understand how populism works in the media, not just from a party political perspective, but from other types of actors. Our goal is for the research to help students understand the role of journalists in this.