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Populism, Political Contention, and the Crisis of Democracy Symposium

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison Vilas Hall University Ave Madison, WI United States (map)

Thursday, March 1, 2018 - Sunday, March 4, 2018

This symposium seeks to bring together scholars from Europe and America to consider populism and its relationship to the contemporary communication ecology. We do so with two driving questions in mind: (1) How has growing polarization and fragmentation in the media ecology, as reflected in partisan media, broadcast content, political advertising and social media, contributed to ideological and partisan political divides? (2) Under what conditions does the flow of information in the media ecology encourage citizens across the ideological spectrum to retrench into increasingly homogeneous sub-clusters that amplify highly partisan messages of party leaders and political pundits? The scholars hosting this campus event (Kathy Cramer, Lewis Friedland, Dhavan Shah, Michael Wagner, and Chris Wells) are examining parallel questions by gathering social network, survey, and qualitative data on contentious politics in Wisconsin.

Our goal in inviting a select group of European and American scholars is twofold: (1) to have them share their perspectives on populism and the role of communication in creating the context for its resurgence, and (2) to have these scholars inform the work taking place at the UW-Madison on our efforts to reconstruct a statewide communication ecology of Wisconsin since 2010. This is an essential time to address the question of populism and its communicative roots. Despite deepening concern regarding fractures in civil society and growing political contentiousness in our academic disciplines, truly comparative work and integration of European insights into research in the U.S. context is rare. This symposium hopes to facilitate the understanding of broader features of civil society, politics, governance and mass media, as well as their complex interrelations and breakdown.

Vilas Hall
821 University Ave
Madison, WI

Earlier Event: December 6
Cultural Backlash talk at the LSE
Later Event: March 8
The state of the world's elections