UNpacking POPulism: Comparing the formation of emotion narratives and their effects on political behaviour

The Project


UNpacking POPulism: Comparing the formation of emotion narratives and their effects on political behaviour


48 meses | 22 de março de 2021 a 21 de março de 2025


Cristiano Gianolla, CES U. Coimbra,
Principal Investigator

Lisete Mónico, CINEICC, Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences
co-Principal Investigator


CES (Centre for Social Studies University of Coimbra)
CINEICC (Center for Research in Neuropsychology and Cognitive Behavioral Intervention)


Democratic theory, Right-wing political parties, Mixed methodology, Affective turn




Foundation for Science and Technology PTDC/CPO-CPO/3850/2020


How do we describe the Project?

While populism may be considered alien to democratic practices, or a degenerated and irrational expression of political discourse, populist parties master the use of emotion in politics. In the rich body of literature on populism, only a few studies address the entanglement of populism and emotions, although many acknowledge it exists. Moreover, these studies generally focus on the mobilisation of single negative emotions and privilege quantitative methodologies alone. More importantly, they mostly approach emotions as if they constitute a descriptive property of populist speech acts and actors, thus missing the opportunity to engage with emotions as fundamental categories in the analysis of populist politics. UNpacking POPulist emotion narratives enables a deeper analysis of how populist phenomena constitute themselves and how they impact on political behaviour. The literature increasingly shows that in order to UNderstand the POPping of populism in European politics (and beyond), a much deeper engagement with emotions is needed. Outstanding evidence is expected comparing Portugal (PT) - until recently considered an exception - and Italy (IT) - a country quite experienced with populism. UNPOP seeks to unravel the conditions enabling and favouring right-wing populist politics, engaging with the consensual and yet understudied assumption that the mobilisation of emotions is a fundamental cause. In order to unpack this constitutive dimension of populist politics, UNPOP advances and applies a mixed methodology and develops a comparative research plan focusing on ‘EMOTION NARRATIVES’. These are frames in which both positive and negative emotions are mobilised to stimulate political behaviour, in order to define both ingroup and outgroup characteristics.

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The Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra is a scientific institution focused on research and advanced training within the Social Sciences, the Arts and the Humanities, through an inter and transdisciplinary approach. The Ministry of Science granted CES the status of Associated Laboratory in 2002, recognizing its contribution to public policies, advanced training and the dissemination and sharing of knowledge.



Colégio de S. Jerónimo, Apartado 3087
3000-995 Coimbra, Portugal
Cell +351 239 855 570
Fax. +351 239 855 589
Email. unpop(at)ces.uc.pt