In the name of the people: representing the people in twenty-first century politics


In the name of the people: Representing the people in twenty-first century politics

Illustration from Freepik

In today’s world, shaken by the effects of globalization, the aftermath of the financial crisis and widespread political corruption, people in many countries are reaching out for radical political solutions. In many parts of Europe, experts have perceived a growing mistrust of conventional politics: as the perceived gap between citizens and their representatives has widened, new political formations have arisen that promise to shake up the status quo and give more concrete expression to people’s real needs and desires. Such groups vary according to region, taking on many different forms (right-wing, left-wing, nationalist), but many of them have been classified as “populist”, in that they claim to give voice to “the will of the people”. Their self-presentation gives importance to aspects of identity that position them as diametrically opposed to supposedly hegemonic groups, and the ensuing dichotomy is emphasized by heightened degrees of affect. Their multimodal messages provide a broad field of study for discourse analysts, as well as for experts in traditional and new media.  

The three-year project “Imagining the people in the new politics: debates on the will of the people in public discourse across Europe” (MINECO project: FFI2015-65252-R El demos en el imaginario de la nueva política: el debate sobre la voluntad popular en el discurso público en Europa) has explored how the discourses of the new political parties and movements in Europe project the concept of “the people” (“demos”) and articulate it with other ideas, centring on the period of instability following the financial crisis of 2008. In this final conference, In the name of the people: representing the people in twenty-first century politics, we propose to open up the debate on discursive representations of the people to a broad cross section of experts in political discourse, discourse analysis, multimodal analysis, media studies and political communication.