Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Social Sciences - Berlin Graduate School of Social Science

Benjamin Schürmann

Benjamin Schürmann

BGSS Generation 2018



Does the rise of populism shape the structure of political action? - Populist communication, populist attitudes and their consequences for the practice of political participation



In many Western democracies, populist parties, politicians and movements successfully challenge the political establishment, formulate their dissatisfaction with democratic institutions and criticize processes of political decision making. Their appeal is based on core issues such as anti-elitism, sovereignty of the people and the unconstrained implementation of peoples' preferences, which are strongly associated with demands for more direct and unconventional forms of political participation. Surprisingly, the question of the populist surge’s impact is often limited to electoral success in public and scientific debates. But little is known about the consequences on the behavioral level beyond elections; this is actual political engagement of individuals with populist preferences.

At the same time, populist movements like PEGIDA or parties like the AfD show that communication strategies could mobilize citizens to engage in politics not just in elections but in various ways. Obviously, this trend is (at least partly) caused by effective political communication of populist actors. However, it remains unclear whether and how populist communication affects the political engagement of the people.

On these grounds, this thesis aims at connecting supply side (populist communication) and demand side (political attitudes and behavior of the people) with the goal of exploring the causes and consequences of populism for citizens' political engagement. Or, to put it differently, this dissertation asks whether the populist success shapes the structure of individual political action.


Recent Publications

Schürmann, Benjamin (2016). Die Struktur politischer Online-Partizipation – Eine empirische Analyse der Nutzer von openPetition. In L. Leißner, H. Bause & L. Hagemeyer (Hrsg.), Politische Kommunikation - neue Phänomene, neue Perspektiven, neue Methoden (DFPK, Bd. 6, 1. Auflage, S. 69–88).



Berlin Social Science Center (WZB)