19. - 20. September 2024

Backlash Politics

Workshop held by Karen J. Alter (Northwestern University) and Michael Zürn (WZB) to discuss papers for a book project on backlash politics

[Call for proposals has been closed. We thank all applicants for their submissions. Selected participants have been contacted by the organizers.]

The project builds upon a special issue published in the "British Journal of Politics and International Relations" in Winter 2020 which sets out a definition and a proto-theory of backlash politics. Our definition of backlash politics consists of three elements that are jointly necessary and mutually co-constitutive: i) a retrograde objective of returning to a real or imagined prior social condition; ii) extraordinary goals and tactics that challenge dominant scripts; and iii) a threshold condition of entering mainstream public discourse. We added the notion of frequent companions which tend to be associated outgrowth of the three necessary backlash elements: nostalgia, emotional appeals, taboo breaking and institutional reshaping.

The project seeks to develop this framework further. Our goal is to broaden the geographic and issue areas of cases studies, reach back further in time, and provide deeper investigations (11,000-13,000 words per contribution). By expanding the issues and geographies, we hope to learn about backlash outside of democratic contexts. By reaching back in time, we hope to be able to further theorize about the range of outcomes.

Please refer to the “Workshop Framework” document on the sidebar for more information on the motivation, the objectives and the framework of the book project.

Barrier-free WZB: The venue is wheelchair accessible.

Data protection: You can find our information on data protection for photo and film recordings here.