Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

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The Noisy Counter-Revolution: Understanding the Cultural Conditions and Dynamics of Populist Politics in Europe in the Digital Age

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Abstract:  The article argues for a cultural turn in the study of populist politics in Europe. Integrating insights from three fields—political sociology, political psychology, and media studies—a new, multi-disciplinary framework is proposed to theorize particular cultural conditions favorable to the electoral success of populist parties. Through this lens, the fourth wave of populism should be viewed as a “noisy”, anti-cosmopolitan counter-revolution in defense of traditional cultural identity. Reflective of a deep-seated, value-based great divide in European democracies that largely trumps economic cleavages, populist parties first and foremost politically mobilize long lingering cultural discontent and successfully express a backlash against cultural change. While the populist counter-revolution is engendered by profoundly transformed communicative conditions in the age of social media, its emotional force can best be theorized with the political psychology of authoritarianism: as a new type of authoritarian cultural revolt.

Keywords:  anti-cosmopolitanism; authoritarianism; cultural turn; noisy counter-revolution; politics of transgression; populism; post-factual politics; social media



© Lars Rensmann. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.