POPREBEL is an inter-disciplinary consortium of researchers focused on explaining and contextualising the recent rise of populism in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). While populism is a phenomenon that has by now emerged in almost every democracy, we believe that regional and cultural-historical dimensions need to be considered in order to improve not only scholarly knowledge, but also policy recommendations. It is urgent for Western Europeans to look into the CEE mirror, just as it is urgent for the CEE region to understand itself. To this end, we will create a typology of populism’s various manifestations, reconstruct trajectories of its growth and decline, investigate its causes, interpret its meanings, diagnose its consequences, and propose policy solutions.
Our focus is on CEE, but we engage in comparisons with populisms elsewhere, particularly Western Europe. While scholars from different disciplines have looked at populism, we argue that the full potential of interdisciplinary research has not been achieved yet. We draw on data and models from various disciplines and combine them into a rich study of forces at play. In addition to established methods of economics, sociology, and cultural studies, at the heart of our approach is a novel methodology whose essence is a large-scale, Europe-wide, multi-lingual online conversation. This is a listening exercise; its aim is a deep understanding of everyday life in Europe challenged by the rise of populism. The method to process this unique ethnographic material is semantic social network analysis.
POPREBEL relies on foresight/future studies, deep involvement with activists, policy makers, and civil society actors to boost the immune system of European democracy. We develop scenarios and share them with all interested parties to reflect, in public debate, on how well they fit both in the CEE region and the rest of Europe. Our focus is not just scholarly; the project serves as a platform for mutual learning.