A revival of populism in the age of social media

In New Media & Society’s special issue on populism, Dahrendorf working group co-chair Andrea Römmele served as editor and co-wrote two articles.

During the era of social media, political populism has again gained a foothold in several countries across the world. The international journal New Media & Society dedicated a special issue to “populism”, edited by Andrea Römmele, Hertie School Dean of Executive Education and Professor for Communication in Politics and Civil Society. She also co-authored two articles.

In “Populism in the era of Twitter: How social media contextualized new insights into an old phenomenon”, which serves as an introductory piece, Römmele and co-authors Karolina Koc Michalska and Homero Gil de Zúñiga discuss how the old phenomenon of “populism” has developed in today’s political realm of social media.

Römmele’s second article “Scientific and subversive: The two faces of the fourth era of political campaigning”, co-written with Dahrendorf working group member and University of Manchester Professor of Political Science Rachel Gibson, makes the case that democracies are now entering a fourth phase of “data-driven” political campaigning. The authors identify a significant shift in various areas defining this new phase.

“Departing from prior studies, we also argue that the new phase is distinguished, by a bifurcation, into two variants—the scientific and the subversive,” the authors write. “While sharing a common core, these two modes differ, in that the former retains a commitment to the normative goals of campaigning, that is, to mobilize and inform voters, while the latter explicitly rejects and subverts these aims, focusing instead on demobilization and the spread of misinformation.”

You can find New Media & Society’s special issue on populism here.