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The People's Memes
Mon 27 February 2017, 18:30 – 20:00 GMT
The People’s Memes: Populist Politics in a Digital Society
Recent political events such as the victory of Trump in the US presidential elections, but also the rise of leftwing populist formations and candidates as Podemos in Spain and Bernie Sanders in the US have demonstrated not only the strength of populist phenomena on both the Left and the Right of the political spectrum, but also their ability to tap into the affordances of social media. Populist appeal to the people and against the establishment seem to have found a suitable space on social media. This has been demonstrated by the way in which populist candidates have used effectively social network sites as Facebook and Twitter, and memefied their campaign slogans, and turned discussion forums as Reddit into an organising space for activists.
Why is leftwing and rightwing populism showing such an ability to use digital technology? What makes social media so conducive to populist discourse? How are candidates such as Trump, le Pen, and Sanders using social media to channel their messages? How does populism in a digital society, differ from the agrarian populism of the 19th century and the populism of the poor seen among other contexts in Latin America during the 20th century?
The event will host a number of speakers who have been investigating the nexus between populism and digital technology. It will discuss the reasons for the current surge of populist politics, and the way in which it relates to a number of processes, including the cultural and social shocks produced by rapid technological innovation, the new mass outreach affordances of social media, and the way they allow to sidestep the mediation of mainstream news media, and the changes in the class structure and in social experience that have been facilitated by the diffusion of social media and digital technology more generally.
Paolo Gerbaudo (KCL)
Alex Williams (City)
Emmy Ekhlund (KCL)