Academic leads on interdisciplinary research project awarded NORFACE funding

In the latest announcement of funding, 14 new research projects have been supported by New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe (NORFACE) to offer timely investigation into the challenges to democratic governance and politics.

The transnational, interdisciplinary research project entitled Populist Backlash, Democratic Backsliding, and the Crisis of the Rule of Law in the European Union (POPBACK) will be led by Dr Gerhard Schnyder, Director of the Institute for International Management at Loughborough University London.

The POPBACK project aims to inform strategies to increase democratic resilience by studying the mechanisms ‘exclusionary populists’ use to increase their power by undermining the Rule of Law in the areas of law, the economy, and the media. The project also seeks to identify the ‘coping strategies’ societal actors use when faced with exclusionary populism.

The project, which is organised into four work packages (legal changes, business and economics, media and communications, and impact), also includes Dr Burçe Çelik from the University’s Institute for Media and Creative Industries who will co-lead the third work project, Media and Communications, with academics from the Peace Institute in Slovenia and the University of Vienna in Austria.

On receiving the funding for the project, Dr Gerhard Schnyder said:

“I'm delighted to have the privilege to work with this interdisciplinary team of world-leading scholars from eight institutions in six different countries. The project provides a great opportunity for Loughborough University London to further strengthen its already excellent international research network and continue on its path to becoming a renowned hub for cutting-edge interdisciplinary research on the societal challenges of the 21st century.”

“Populist backlash against liberal democracy is one of the most formidable challenges facing various European countries. While the electoral politics of this trend have been extensively studied, our project will shed light on a less-well studied aspect of this phenomenon, namely the legal and political economy of populism.”

More about the project

The project includes academics from Austria (University of Vienna), Germany (Goethe University Frankfurt), Poland (Polish Academy of Sciences), Slovenia (Peace Institute), the UK (Loughborough University, University of Cambridge, and the LSE), and the USA (University of Delaware).

Adopting an interdisciplinary approach spanning political economy, legal-, management-, and media studies, the research group will compare Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, all of which have experienced varying degrees of populist success.

The research project will work in collaboration with the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy, which will create five International Policy Fellowships for key stakeholders from the countries studied. These Fellowships will constitute channels for evidence-based input from world-leading academics to inform coping strategies and stimulate cross-country knowledge exchange.

Furthermore, the project seeks to reach a broader audience by collaborating with artists to stage a participatory performance in four cities to engage a dialogue with citizens from the countries studied.

The POPBACK project is expected to begin in late 2020 and continue into 2023.

The funding has been received as part of NORFACE’s call for research projects focusing on ‘Democratic Governance in a Turbulent Age’ which has granted over €17.8million in total across the 14 projects.

Further information about NORFACE and the successful projects can be found on the NORFACE website.