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Uniwersytet Śląski w Katowicach

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Wydział Nauk Społecznych

Research topic: NEW POPULISM AND RELIGIOUSNESS

Description: In recent years, criticism of populism and its consequences has been particularly strong. Critics perceive it as a source of anti-democratic trends in the contemporary politics. Jan  Werner  Müller (2016, 22) states that “Populism arises with the introduction of representative democracy; it is its shadow”, while  Michael Freeden  (2017, 6) continues that “Populism is often  seen as an ideology  of the dispossessed, and it may indeed recruit  them, but it is not articulating their political agenda.”. Some researchers indicate the quasi-religious connotations of populism, defining “populism as a political style that sets ‘sacred’ people against two enemies:   ‘elites’ and ‘others’.” (DeHanas, Shterin 2018, 180). Changes in the nature of electoral competition and political communication have created a new kind of populism. Its basic context is a worldview that explains the complexity of the surrounding world to the individual through functional simplifications. In general, it identifies good with the common will of the people and evil with the elite acting against the people (Hawkins & Riding, 2010, p. 22-25).  The basic dichotomy within its framework is the perception of conflicting social relations, in which the axis of dispute runs between an establishment wishing to exploit the society for its purposes, and the majority being exploited. The condition necessary to develop such a perception is the need to ensure representation and protection of this excluded majority of the general public (Stavrakakis et al., 2017). In the contrary to the ideological interpretation of populism, its depiction in the context of a worldview separates it even more from the classical left- and-right-wing understanding. The current shape of relations between religiousness and populist attitudes in Poland can be presented using the results of research by Agnieszka Turska-Kawa and Waldemar Wojtasik (2020). In the course of the research procedure, three groups of people with different, albeit internally homogeneous, relations between variables were identified. They were named through reference to the dominant level of religiousness and populism. Religious people were characterised by an above-average level of religiousness and   moderate levels of populism. The moderate group showed average value for each of the variables distinguished. Populists presented above-average levels of populism and average religiousness. Research has therefore shown that religiousness is not a factor in creating populist attitudes in Poland. In the group with the highest declared religiousness, there was no tendency for features characteristic for political populism to co-occur. The results of the cited research support the statement that religiousness is associated with pro-social attitudes and behaviours directed towards the good of others, as well as values and emotions that support these behaviours. The aim of our project is to define the relationship between attitudes, which result from a new kind of populism and religiousness. We wish to verify the conclusions of studies into classic populism and determine whether, religiousness still plays a protective role against populist attitudes.

Keywords: populism; religiousness; social movements, populist attitudes,

Team: Krystyna Buszman, Rafał Muster, Waldemar Wojtasik

Contact: waldemar.wojtasik@us.edu.pl

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