Summer Session 2018 Critique in the Age of Populism

Summer Session 2018 Critique in the Age of Populism

Critique in the Age of Populism 2018-2020

Summer Session 2018: July 29th – August 5th, Fårö, Gotland, Sweden.

Preliminary overview of paper presenters:

Mikael Carleheden: ”How to diagnose the times? Critical theory, French pragmatism and Genealogy.”

Arne Johan Vetlesen “Validity populist style: authenticity not truth; not what you say but who you are and where you belong.”

Anna Engstam* ”New, nonessentialistic ways of understanding alienation”

Rafael Dernbach ”Crypto-Fascism and its Imaginaries – cinema for the alt-right “

Eric Dreibel ”Critique and the “living truth”: on the naive naturalism of genes and codes.

John Storm Pedersen ” Institutionel teori, velfærdsprofessioner og legitimitet”

Åke Nilsen ” Ethical consequences of the sociological classics”

Anders Ramsay ”Title to be announced”

Peter Aagaard. ”Democray disrupted”

Karolina Enquist Källgren ”Title to be announced”

Johan Söderberg ”Title to be announced”

Øjvind Larsen ”Title to be announced”

Joakim Blomkvist ”Title to be announced”


Institutions of critique and post-truth-politics

Beginning in the Nordic experience the summer session will address the problem of the apparent connection between institutionalised critique and the emergence of populist movements and post-truth-politics. The pillars of critical thought and debate is challenged. Western liberal democracies risk that some of the long hold institutions of critical debate erode and vanish into post-truth politics or distort into “theater of culture wars” (Kardaş, 2017: 116). In the theater of culture wars, both left and right wing populism is on the rise (Mudde 2004: 551; Aalberg et al 2016:6), and the style of populism is increasingly adopted by mainstream politicians, leaders of movements, organized interests as well as journalists (Mudde, 2004: 542; Jagers & Walgrave 2007: 322). As a mainstream phenomenon, populism tends to distort and trivialize public and critical informed debate.

In the Nordic Countries the institutions of critical debate have among others been the universities, the public service broadcasters, the independent, editorial press and the liberal (neo)corporativistic state form. Universities has educated scholars of free thought and provided independent research to inform the public debate. Public service institutions has provided fact-based journalism that provided a prioritized and informed agenda in the public sphere. Editorial press has provided news and news analysis that reflected the legitimate views of different societal classes, and the corporativistic state form aimed to secure that the voices of unions and legitimate organized interests was taken into account in the political decision process. In general, the proponents of these institutions argued that they installed critique and critical thinking as a normative value in state ideology in the Nordic countries.

Today, these institutions are all exposed to tremendous transformations. Mediatization and digitization shapes the national public sphere. Public service broadcasters and universities are subjects of austerity politics and managerialism, where quantitative measures of output is emphasized on behalf of more quantitative outcomes. Private funded actors like think tanks and business foundations as well as pharmaceutical and tech companies, increasingly dominate the stream of new research, and new players in the educational business is on the brink to challenge the universities, when it comes to education. Global tech companies increasingly dominate, not only the advertising market, which is the bread and butter of national, editorial media, but the tech companies also become the filter through which citizens receive news and news analysis (Kulturministeriet, 2016: 13; Kulturstyrelsen, 2017: 5).

This is paralleled with citizens having increased possibilities to choose niche media that suit their personal taste and reflect their view on the world (W. L. Bennett & Iyengar, 2008: 707; W. L. Bennett & Manheim, 2006: 223). In addition, all over the Nordic countries we have seen a decrease in neocorporatism (Blach-Ørsten, Willig, & Pedersen, 2017). Instead of formal representation in counsels and committees organized interests increasingly seek influence through direct or indirect forms of lobbyism (Rommetvedt et al., 2012; Binderkrantz et al 2015; Aagaard & Blach-Ørsten 2018; Garsten & Sörbom, 2017).

The session aims to debate in what way the institutions of critical thought and debate should and can transform, to prevent post-truth politics to flourish, as well as enable social critique. We welcome contributions treating the connection between institutions and critique in the present as well as historically or theoretically. In what way are institutions necessary for critique, and to what extent do they maintain ideas of exclusion and inclusions, as well as ideals of the political that could be counterproductive to social critique? Can new institutions, as well as institutionalized practices, be envisioned that can work as a fundament for effective social challenges of economic and social orders? To what extent can new digital techniques be understood to change the landscape of political institutions? What is the relationship between institutions and resistance? What is the relationship between institutions and social movements?

Submit your abstract to Peter Aagaard,

Abstracts should not exceed 500 words.

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