Populist Dynamics in the Hashtag Landscape: A Comparative Study of the European Parliamentary Elections

51st Käte Hamburger Lecture

Tuesday, 30th May 2023 | 18:00–19:30 CEST



A challenge taken up in Spring 2019 asked the question whether it is possible to study discursive politics through social media rather than surveys and mere election results. This lecture addresses a multi-country, multi-method study of the European Parliament elections in 2019 (Herkman and Palonen, eds. forthcoming), where collaborators around Europe contributed to analyses of Twitter data.

The aim of the study was to find out what kinds of political dynamics operate in European Parliamentary (EP) Elections, which in many countries are also second-order elections. Political campaigning is about generating a temporary "us" and also contesting "others"; in the study three different populist dynamics were identified. Using the term “hashtag landscape”, Emilia Palonen outlines how such a multi-method analysis, using both manual and AI-assisted coding, can be helpful in comparative research. She also reflects on the transformation of the social media field, how the EP 2024 could be studied, and how this could be applied to the forthcoming elections to the European parliament.

Emilia Palonen is a discourse theorist and an expert on politics, polarisation and communication, populism and democracy, local participative governance and planning. She has been working on politics of memory in symbolic urban landscapes but also populist movements and even the far right. Currently she is on research leave as Programme Director in Datafication at the Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities and as Leader of HEPPsinki research group. Her current research interestes link to this: hegemony and political change in Europe.

Schedule of this event



18:10 - 19:00

51st Käte Hamburger Lecture

Populist dynamics in the hashtag landscape: a comparative study of the European parliamentary elections

Dr Emilia Palonen, University of Helsinki

Discussant: Dr Paolo Gerbaudo, Reader in Digital Politics, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London

19:00 - 19:30

Q&A with the audience


Participation is possible via Zoom.

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