Call for Papers – special issue if IJPP on Populist (political) Communication


Call for Papers – special issue on Populist Communication

Special issue editors: Toril Aalberg, Frank Esser, Carsten Reinemann, James Stanyer and Claes de Vreese


Populism is a feature of contemporary politics across the globe. However, the communicative aspects of populism have been underexplored or often ignored. Yet—in light of the current social, political, and economic turmoil, and of the changing media environment—the study of populist political communication has perhaps never been more important.

Systematic knowledge is sparse on questions related to populist actors as communicators, the role of the media, and the impact of populist communication strategies on citizens. This scarcity is surprising since the populist zeitgeist, as signaled by Mudde (2004) more than a decade ago, was in part seen to be caused by the media’s preference for, and receptivity toward, populist actors.

As argued in the recent book by Aalberg et al (2017), as a working definition of populism, it makes more sense to talk about degrees and intensity of populism rather than a dichotomy. Following the suggestion by Jagers and Walgrave (2007), we can distinguish various elements of populism. They identify complete populism which includes reference and appeals to the people, anti-elitism, and exclusion of outgroups. Excluding populism includes only reference and appeals to the people, and exclusion of outgroups, whereas anti-elitist populism includes reference and appeals to the people, and anti-elitism. Finally, empty populism includes only reference and appeals to the people. Their definition, along with Moffitt and Tormey‘s (2014, p.394) definition of populism as “political style, a repertoire of performative features which cuts across different political situations that are used to create political relations” are good starting points for scholars addressing populist communication specifically.

In this special issue we look for submissions that explore the relationship and interactions between key actors: (a) political parties, (b) different kinds of media including both media organizations and digital media, and (c) citizens. Many key questions remain in the study of populist communication: these concern (non-)mediated representation of populism, rhetorical style adopted by populists, and message impact. What emotional, cognitive, attitudinal, and behavioral effect does the communication of populists have on (different groups of) citizens? Can communication styles help explain the electoral success of populist actors? What role does the proliferation of social media make? How are populist actors represented in mainstream news media across countries? Are these conditions for populists’ success?

These are examples of questions that we hope the submissions for the special issue will address. We particularly welcome comparative designs. Submissions should emphasize their wider contribution and substantial implications in addition to presenting individual analyses of examples of populist communication.

Range of papers to be considered

The CfP welcomes papers focusing on one or more of these interactions. The special issue is intended to be international and if possible comparative in nature.


Extended abstracts due (2 pages): October 1, 2017

Invited submissions due: November 1, 2017

Full papers due: February 1, 2018

Full papers will be invited to present at a special issue workshop, adjacent to COST Action conference, Madrid, April 2018. Partial funding for presenters will be available for a set of papers. The special issue editors will be at the conference and workshop and provide feedback.

Email submission of extended abstracts is submitted to:

Full paper submissions are handled though the journal’s online submission system. All submissions are due to external review and standard editorial decisions.

Please contact the special issue editors – Toril Aalberg, Frank Esser, Carsten Reinemann, James Stanyer and Claes de Vreese – with questions.


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