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2023 | Book

Producing Cultural Change in Political Communities

The Impact of Populism and Extremism on the International Security Environment

Editors: Holger Mölder, Camelia Florela Voinea, Vladimir Sazonov

Publisher: Springer Nature Switzerland

Book Series : Contributions to Political Science


About this book

In light of many crises in the last two decades, including democratic recession, climate change, economic crises, and massive waves of migration affecting perceptions of security around the world, this book examines the impact of cultural change in political communities on the global political and security environment. Through various case studies of political communities around the world, the book analyzes contemporary responses to cultural change, often culminating in the rise of political populism and extremism.

The book is divided into two parts and presents a foreword by Larry Diamond and an afterword by Eric Shiraev. The first part focuses on the micro-level of cultural change in political communities and discusses conflict mechanisms and the role of political participation in producing changes. The second part features studies on extremism and populism, analyzing their impact on cultural change in Europe. The book is intended for scholars and students in a variety of disciplines, including international relations, security studies, cultural studies, and related fields.

Table of Contents

Introductory Chapter: Cultural Change in Political Communities and Twenty Years of Crisis in the Twenty-First Century
Holger Mölder, Camelia Florela Voinea, Vladimir Sazonov, Noel Foster

Contemporary Conflict, Political Participation and Cultural Change

Societies Open to Conflict: Political Culture and Digitalization in the European Political Landscape
This chapter reviews the relevant research areas and issues concerning the ongoing political cultural change phenomena in Europe during the past decades and discusses technological innovation as one major route to this cultural change. To this aim, the chapter briefly addresses political, economic, and social phenomena which undergo a major change in what concerns their concepts, organizational principles, and operational issues. European societies undergo a complex cultural change generated by a mix of complex phenomena including the accelerated diffusion of technological innovation and digitalization as well as globalization, climate change, and international relations phenomena associated with war and migration. The picture of the cultural change in Europe becomes even more complicated by the co-existence of contradictory old and new governing concepts, and inequalities in the countries’ levels of digitalization which make these societies prone to internal instability and conflict. This study includes aspects of comparative analysis between Western and Eastern European societies with the goal of emphasizing a relationship between typical cultural change phenomena, on the one hand, and openness to internal instability and conflict, on the other hand.
Camelia Florela Voinea
Lower Spectrum Conflict Mechanisms
Since the end of World War II, scientific literature in war studies has established the importance of lower spectrum conflict in which groups are pitted against groups, creating antagonism in societies and potentially leading to violence that undermines security. The role of the state is variable: weak states cannot manage to keep order while strong states can back one group against others to maintain or enhance their power. The examination of multiple case studies indicates that, although understudied, schematic conflict mechanisms exist. Beyond a clear scientific interest, a better understanding of these phenomena could help prevent conflicts by anticipating the transposition of natural dialectics into open violence.
Julien Théron
Political Culture and Political Agency: From Gaugamela to Mosul
While for a long time the organization of people in nation-states was seen as the ultimate aim of politics, the dark sides of nation-states were overemphasized during the last decades, almost completely overshadowing the benefits of the very same project. Peter Sloterdijk described the change which is underway with the metaphor of the bubble, the globe and the postmodern foam. While societies in modern nation-states showed a strong coherence, resulting in political agency through the organization of those states, and a strong feeling of belonging, the inhabitants of postmodern countries live in their own, small bubbles and cannot identify with any larger social organization anymore. While authoritarian states can compensate the lack of participation of their citizens by force and suppression for a while, such top-down systems seem not to work for a long time. Scholars dealing with ancient and recent history were always amazed by historical events, in which a tiny group of people managed to overcome a huge number of enemies.
Sebastian Fink, Vladimir Sazonov
Personalism, Symbolism, and Power in San Luis, Argentina. Cultural Change and Political Practices in San Luis, Argentina
The text analyzes the political practices in the province of San Luis, Argentina, in the last five years (2017–2021) examining the public actions of two relevant politicians in San Luis, such as the current Governor Alberto Rodriguez Saá and the opposition leader deputy national Claudio Poggi. His public political action through the press, his presence on social networks, and his public procedures have been analyzed. The question that guides this manuscript is to know the cultural patterns that shape local politics in the province of San Luis; Argentina and analyze the occurrence of a cultural change in political practices. The surveys allow us to determine that these practices are slowly producing a change in the political culture of San Luis, among the politicians themselves and in their relationship with the electorate.
Sergio Quiroga
The Shift in Kazakhstan Citizens’ Political Participation: Pre and Post the 2019 Political Transition
This chapter provides a comprehensive analysis of political participation in Kazakhstan, with a focus on the period spanning the end of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s rule and the beginning of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s presidency. The paper provides valuable insights into the ways in which citizens are engaging in politics in Kazakhstan and discusses the political participation of citizens in Kazakhstan during two distinct periods: the last decade of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s rule (2011–2019) and the reign of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev who took over after Nazarbayev’s resignation in 2019. Drawing from semi-structured interviews, survey data, and content analysis of media, this chapter asks which factors accelerated the Kazakhs’ political activism during the political transition in Kazakhstan right after Nursultan Nazarbayev’s resignation in 2019 and during Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s rule, including the Covid-19 pandemic, January 2022 unrest and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Shugyla Kilybayeva, Nygmet Ibadildin

Populism, Extremism and Cultural Change

Populism, Extremism and Cultural Change as Traceable in the European Value Study
Political culture seems to have changed in many Western democracies since Inglehart’s findings about materialism and post-materialism. The European Values Study can trace attitude distributions back to 1981 till 2019. A study series like this one—with identical questions about a wide range of issues—allows for first defining an attitude space common to all countries which the EVS targeted and then showing changes over time and differences between countries and generations. The results will contribute to a deepened understanding of the attitude space in which European policy makers have to define policies. Differences between countries are generally smaller than could have been expected from the different history of Western and Eastern Europe during the past four decades—but they still exist. A common result of all analyses is that European societies seem to be composed of large moderate majorities at whose margin vivid and sometimes radical minorities exist.
Klaus G. Troitzsch
Polish-Belarus Border in the Political Narrative During the Migration Crisis in 2021–2022
From early summer 2021, public discourse has solidified Poland's eastern border not only as the external border of the EU, but also as NATO. Its symbolic dimension, its sacredness, and thus the necessity to defend it against the threat have gained importance. A dichotomous approach toward the openness and permeability of the country's eastern borders is evident in the narrative of the Polish authorities. The border with Belarus is a highly protected border, closed to irregular migration and reinforced by a wall, while the border with Ukraine was widely opened to migrants due to the outbreak of war with Russia in February 2022. The aim of this study is to analyze the crisis at Poland’s eastern border with Belarus started in 2021, in the context of the securitization of migration and the polarization of society. The Polish government, appealing to anti-immigrant public sentiment, used the narrative of the sanctity of borders to justify its actions in erecting a wall on the border.
Katarzyna Jędrzejczyk-Kuliniak
Make Live and Let Die: Biopolitical Borders, Migrants, and Refugees in PiS’s Poland
This chapter tackles the question of how the illiberal EU members tailor their border politics to the democratic principles of humanitarianism. It addresses the discourses on migrants and refugees produced by the Polish conservative PiS (Law and Justice) party, which gained its power during the 2015 European refugee crisis and is facing the 2023 general election campaign with several millions of Ukrainian war refugees staying in the country. As the analysis of the current PiS populist discourse on Ukraine war refugees shows, it radically differs from what PiS produced in 2015–2021 on refugees and migrants from the MENA region. In contrast to them, Ukrainian refugees are welcomed by the ruling party as belonging to Polish culture. Does this mean, however, the liberal U-turn of Polish populist discourse on refugees or one could rather talk about a hybrid coexistence of liberal and racist narratives? To answer, the chapter addresses the wider biopolitical approach through the concepts of biopolitical sovereignty as justification of power and otherization as its basic discursive strategy. Based on discourse analysis of materials from PiS mouthpiece Do Rzeczy (published from February 2022 to April 2023), the chapter posits the question of how two different biopolitical logics that the PiS government applies toward migrants/refugees (one is focused on reinforcing borders, including the construction of the wall, and another suggests transparent borders) cooperate. The chapter refers to the key biopolitical dilemma of how to “make live and let die” and seeks possible resolutions.
Alexandra Yatsyk
Promoting Peace to End Russia’s War Against Ukraine: An Unholy Alliance Between the Far Right and Far Left in Germany?
Russia’s war against Ukraine has been an overriding issue in German politics since the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022. The idea of this article is to compare left-wing and right-wing populist opposition to military support for Ukraine to defend itself against the Russian invasion. We analyze and compare communications of the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the socialist party The Left. Both parties have often been accused of populism. Our article shows that, despite distinct motivations, there is a huge overlap in political positions regarding the Russian war against Ukraine. Both parties call for immediate peace negotiations and a willingness to concessions on Ukraine’s part. They are against German deliveries of weapons. Nonetheless, the Alternative for Germany tends more toward isolationism, whereas The Left is located somewhere between pacifism and anti-militarism. Hence, the AfD is rooted in a nationalist ideology. The Left is more of an internationalist force. We show that both parties differ to varying degrees and are not always polar opposites.
Florian Hartleb, Christoph Schiebel
The Impact of War in Ukraine on the Political and Ideological Agenda of European Post-communist State Conservative Populists: The Case of EKRE
Right-wing populists in Estonia—as well as in other European post-communist states—defy easy categorization or placement on left/right axes. Their values combine democratic and non-democratic elements. These populists emphasize majoritarianism and direct democracy at the expense of minority rights, while according to little value to the rule of law. Similarly, Estonian populists give little heed to liberal values, but instead emphasize so-called traditional values. But it is in foreign policy that the contradictions of these populist parties emerge most saliently, as their Euroscepticism and social conservatism aligns them with Russian state messaging and pro-Russian far-right populist parties, while the Soviet legacy imposes constraints on them given lingering fears of Russia on the part of their electorates. Vladimir Putin’s February 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine provides for analytical leverage on the core ideology of Soviet legacy right-wing populism. Through the study of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE), in comparison to Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) and Hungary’s Fidesz parties, this chapter analyzes the ideological core of contemporary Soviet legacy populism.
Illimar Ploom, Vladimir Sazonov, Noel Foster
The Russia Discourses of Estonian Populists: Before and After the War in Ukraine
This article discusses the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) as a part of governing coalition and an opposition force whose domestic political agenda is structurally close to the Kremlin’s social conservatism and EU-skepticism. Three questions are central to this analysis: how EKRE’s attitudes towards Russia are formulated and articulated; why these attitudes change; and what this case can add to the extant scholarship on populist foreign policies. Methodologically, this research is framed by a discourse analysis complemented by a definition of populism as a performative phenomenon.
Andrey Makarychev
War of Narratives and Revisionist Challenge—The Evolving Strategic Partnership Between the New Right Movement in the United States and the Russian Federation
The international system started to move from Kantian security governance to Hobbesian hyper-competitiveness after 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, followed by the Iraqi intervention of 2003 and challenges to the status quo of the international system from revisionist powers. The world we entered after is more securitized and dominated by cultures of fear and uncertainty. Besides, the present international political and security environment has been strongly influenced by various anti-establishment movements, and the increasingly powerful New Right movement became more visible in the 2010s with the anti-migration movement in Europe, the Brexit process (UK), and Trumpism (U.S.). These populist waves often feed each other and ally with revisionist powers in their common strategic goal to contend general principles of the existing system. Conspiracy theories perfectly fit with the strategic ambitions of revisionist powers that are interested in changing the status quo and the Russian interference in US elections on behalf of the Trumpist movement has been widely discussed. This study focuses on strategic narratives and political discourse analysis of US pro-Trump organizations and the Russian Federation.
Holger Mölder
Producing Cultural Change in Political Communities
Holger Mölder
Camelia Florela Voinea
Vladimir Sazonov
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