Bayerischer Forschungsverbund “Zukunft der Demokratie” (ForDemocracy)

Project 04
Anti-Populism: Knowledge Transfer and Strategies in Citizenship Education


What defines liberal democracy in the 21st century? How does it cope with the current challenges? This project analyzes characteristics and procedures in today’s liberal democracies that are challenged by populist narratives and conspiracy theories. Based on the findings, counter strategies are supposed to be developed.

Project Description

Populism is on the rise, both as a political and a scientific notion. In the political arena populism is used as a pejorative description of one’s political enemy. In political science and the public debate, on the other hand, the concept of populism helps to make core principles of liberal democracy more evident. Thus, by discussing the phenomenon of populism we can rediscover the normative and political foundations of a liberal-democratic, constitutional state.

The project draws on current research on populism, but seeks to reframe the debate: What defines liberal democracy in the 21st century, and how does it respond to the growing challenges posed by populism? Which structural features, procedures and logics of a liberal-democratic organization of power can be used to resist the pressure of populist critique? How can we respond to today’s challenges of a national, yet internationally and supra-nationally embedded democracy and of an increasingly diverse society?

Ultimately, the project will develop a profile of Anti-Populism. Together with partners from the sector of citizenship education, it is our goal to translate theoretical findings into narratives that fit modern political debates and citizenship education. These narratives may help civil society with explicitly articulating itself as being liberal-democratic.

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Projekt 04 Prof. Dr. Karsten Fischer, Dr. Astrid Séville

Karsten Fischer (left)
Astrid Séville (right)
Marlene Schönberger (middle)
Sascha Ruppert-Karakas (not in the picture)