Jaro Stacul

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Memorial U.

Grant number

Gr. 9977

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Stacul, Jaro (Memorial U.) "A Populist Solidarity? An Examination of Right-Wing Populism in Contemporary Poland"

The last few years have seen an upsurge, in Europe and the Americas, of different types of right-wing populism. What unites most populist movements is the fact that they claim to speak in the name of ‘the people’ and against the elites or ethnic others. Yet because the definition of ‘the people’ is at the heart of populism, understanding the appeal of populist movements also involves understanding the key concepts on which the idea of ‘the people’ is built. The project’s point of departure is the hypothesis that to understand populism’s appeal, we need to analyze solidarity as a contested concept around which political mobilization is implemented. Poland lends itself particularly well to an exploration of the meanings and uses of solidarity. Because of its Catholicism, a ‘culture of solidarity’ has a long history in Poland. In the 1980s, the Solidarity movement contested the legitimacy of the socialist state by appealing to human rights. Yet solidarity itself is also appealed to by the right-wing populist forces that won Polish elections in 2015 and 2019. This contradiction raises an important issue: how a discourse derived from liberal values can become well adapted to the demands of right-wing populism.