Accueil > From the Margins to the Mainstream? Right-Wing Extremism, Radicalism and Populism

KAFP 3930 - From the margins to the mainstream? Right-wing extremism, radicalism and populism

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2018-2019

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


The preconditions of the class is to follow European politics with keen interest.

Course Description

The far right acquired increasing relevance in contemporary democracies and, in some countries, it appears to have moved into the mainstream. But whether or not the far right is compatible with democracy is among the most vivid debates in society and academia. The recent elections in Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the US witnessed an increase in votes for political parties articulating nativism and distrust in politics. The large influx of refugees in Europe and the new wave of Islamist attacks around the world fuel mobilization of national and transnational social movements like PEGIDA, CasaPound Italia, the Identitarians and the so-called Alt-Right. Far right activism on the web has been targeted by governments' policies and tech companies to counter ‘hate content' online. The complexity of these phenomena invites us to further analyze the reasons for their emergency, support and the content of their political supply. The aim of this M.A. course is to introduce students to the study of continuities and changes in far right politics to understand if and how “the mainstreaming” of the far right occurs. The course will focus on far right mobilization in a comparative perspective with a primary (but not exclusive) focus on Western Europe and the US, where the far right seems to have moved into the mainstream, notably by entering in government. The course is organized in three thematic sections: (1) Ideology and discourses, (2) Mobilization and elections, (3) Impact on representative democracies.


FROIO, Caterina (Assistant Professor)

Pedagogical format

By attending the course students will acquire familiarity with theories explaining individual and contextual conditions facilitating (and inhibiting) far right mobilization and electoral success. At the same time, they will be exposed to different research methods and data -encompassing ethnography, archival research, interviews and surveys both online and offline - to study the far right empirically. In addition, the course maps parties and social movements across countries, investigating their historical origins, ideological features, and the patterns of opportunity structures that led to their emergence and persistence in contemporary democracies. The course will make extensive reference to ongoing and past academic debates, as well as to journalistic reports, relevant online material, documentaries and political debates in the observed countries. By the end of the 12 sessions, students are expected to master the main conceptual and theoretical issues concerning far right politics, they shall be able to recognize the key concepts to study right-wing radicalism, extremism and populism and they shall be confident with at least one country case among those examined in the seminar. In terms of skills, the course equips students with the theoretical tools and empirical evidence necessary to identify, assess and critique these transformations. Given the increasing importance that this topic acquired, students' skills may be valuable for the media

Course validation

The course grade consists of a final take-home essay that should be submitted on Friday 7 December before midnight. Submit your essay on the MOODLE (do not email it to the instructor). Late submission will not be graded. Students will write an academic essay on a topic selected from the syllabus (maximum 5000 words, spaces, footnotes, and references excluded, font 12). The essay shall include the following 6 sections: - Research question. Identify a research question and its relevance. Describe what do you want to study and why. What is your research question? Why is the question interesting/relevant (use class material and references to ongoing events to justify it)? - Literature review. You should discuss how your paper builds upon and contributes to existing knowledge in the field. To do this you shall identify and discuss key references on your topic highlighting what is new in your approach/research. - Expectations. You should state what you intend to prove through your research. It should state your focus. Expectations may help you to focus your investigation. When you make research you will notice that more and more information comes out. Expectations will keep you from losing your focus, i.e. from « losing the forest for the trees ». - Data selection. Explain how you are planning to answer to this question empirically. Identify (online and/or offline) data and sources that you will need to address your research question. Data may be interviews, existing datasets, secondary literature etc. For each source, remember to include a short discussion of its relevance for your study. - Research design. Present your research design (cases studied -organizations & places- and how do you study them: comparing differences and/or similarities, overtime or cross-sectional) - Annotated bibliography. Write an annotated bibliography. The annotated bibliography will include a very short (2-3 lines max) summary of each source and its relevance for your essay. To pass the class students have to show that they: - Have understood the conceptual and theoretical foundations of right-wing extremist, radical and populist politics - Have acquired an in-depth expertise in one specific case of far right mobilization and be able to explain the differences between diverse political experiences


On the MOODLE, students will find a power point “how to write an academic essay” illustrating how to systematize your intuitions, ideas, and knowledge and how to transform them in actual research. Whenever possible, you are invited to refer to other literature and readings of the course, and to the news and ongoing events which the students may know or consider relevant to discuss the topic.

Required reading