Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Media and Communication

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Research Seminar: Professor Karen Sanders – Populism and exclusionary narratives: the ‘other’ in Podemos’ 2014 EU election campaign

Clothworkers’ North, G12 Lecture Theatre, All Welcome

Abstract: Populist political parties have become a key feature of the European political landscape. In addition to claiming to be identified with the people, many of these parties are characterised by exclusionary narratives which centre on groups such as immigrants and religious minorities, a feature considered by analysts as specific to right-wing populism. Left-wing populism is usually defined as sharing right-wing populism’s identification with the people and its anti-elitism but not its attachment to exclusionary narratives.

This study challenges that assumption as well as the conceptual distinction upon which it relies namely, the proposition that anti-elitism is not also excluding populist communication. The research examines the party and electoral communication of Podemos, the self-described, left-wing populist Spanish political party, from its foundation in January 2014 up until the close of the European Union parliamentary election campaign in May 2014, using both Burke’s dramatistic pentad and van Dijk’s ideological square for communication analysis.


Biographical Note: Karen Sanders is President of the Association of Political Communication (Asociación de Comunicación Política-ACOP) and Research Director for the social sciences campus at CEU San Pablo University, where she also directs the Research Centre of Communication Trends. She is visting professor at IESE Business School and Head of the School of Arts and Humanities at St Mary’s University, Twickenham

Karen lectures, writes and advises in the fields of political communication and communication ethics, and her books include Ethics and JournalismCommunicating Politics in the 21st CenturyPolitical Scandals in Britain and Spain and, in 2013, the co-edited Government Communication. Karen began her formal working career in the City of London as the Parliamentary and Media Manager for the British Chamber of Shipping. Her interest in communication ethics and political communication is inspired by her intercultural experiences and background (Irish-English-touch of Italian) and a passion for promoting dialogue and understanding between and in communities.

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