Populism, Parochialism and Autocratic Leadership

16 – 20 April 2018   print this page

Course directors:

Wieger Bakker, University of Utrecht, Netherlands
Rene van Rijsselt, University of Utrecht, Netherlands
Viktor Koska, Croatia
Ladislav Rabušić, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
Paul Stubbs, Institute of Economics, Zagreb, Croatia

Course description:

Europe - the countries of Europe and the European Union in particular – has been grappling with its future for a long time. In what direction should Europe develop? how do those of us living in Europe deal with our problems? how do we safeguard our interests? how do we organize ourselves? and who do we trust to govern us? Perhaps even more importantly, who are ‘we’ and ‘us’ here? These are not new questions, but there is a sense that they have become more urgent due to a changing political atmosphere and landscape in which divisions are growing both within Europe as a whole and in the countries which constitute it as an entity. The divide was most visible during the Brexit referendum and in the discussions which followed after it, as well as in elections in France, The Netherlands, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic as well as in political developments in Poland and Hungary, and the responses to demands for Catalan autonomy in Spain. To an extent, there has been a repoliticisation of a significant group of citizens, whose voice had gone unrepresented in the political arena, rejecting neo-liberal austerity policies and fearing the loss of employment security, social security, and opportunities to improve their lives. At the same time, the rejection of unaccountable and uncaring elites has come to co-exist with hostility towards newcomers, outsiders, or those who are ‘different’ in any way. A new isolationism, exemplified by Donald Trump’s calls for ‘economic nationalism’ and ‘America first’, has placed those who hold liberal and cosmopolitan perspectives on the defensive.

Throughout Europe, growing support for parties that adhere to isolationist views and the support for strong, even autocratic, political leadership, is often regarded as populist and dangerous, leading to new manifestations of exclusion and other negative social and economic consequences. On the other hand, many informed commentators argue that what some term ‘populism’ is, in fact, a response to legitimate worries and fears expressed by a substantial part of the population and barely addressed by mainstream political parties. Some have suggested that a distinction needs to be made between left-wing and right-wing populism.

This course we will explore some of the key characteristics, consequences and challenges of these observed developments, addressing growing populism, parochialism, authoritarianism and autocratic leadership in Europe and beyond.

Three of the most important questions to be addressed during the course are:

- What evidence is there for the development of populism, parochialism, authoritarianism and autocratic leadership in Europe, the EU and in the particular countries?

- To what extent do these developments lead to new or growing forms of exclusion or other negative effects?

-What can be done, by whom, and at what levels, to protect individuals, groups, communities and societies from exclusion caused by these developments?

The course encourages diverse approaches to these questions from different academic disciplines, including, but not limited to: anthropology, sociology, political science, economics and law. Above all, we encourage explorations of these issues in ways which combine theory and practice, addressing both analytical questions and issues of policy interventions, governance and political strategy, whether at the local, national, comparative, European and/or global level, as well as on the importance of activism and social movements.

Course History:

Twenty years of inclusion and exclusion in contemporary European Societies

This course is the eleventh edition of a bi-annual series of courses of which Inclusion and Exclusion in Contemporary European Societies is the central theme. In 1998 the emphasis was on the exploration of the concepts of In- and Exclusion. In 2000 there was an accent on empirical data. The edition of 2002 focused on Inclusion and Exclusion in terms of (policy and governmental and non-governmental) intervention. In 2004 the course focussed on the EU-enlargement and the future of ‘civil society’ and ‘governance’. In 2006 we looked at the dilemmas in dealing with diversity and the directions that are open for action. In 2008 we addressed the emerging paradoxical trend of a Europe that is on the one hand becoming more provincial, parochial and frozen and on the other hand becoming more dynamic, cosmopolitan and a global player. In 2010 we concentrated on the consequences of the financial crisis for exclusion and inclusion in the EU and in 2012 we paid attention to the ways in which soft power, compared to hard power, could contribute to solving social problems. In 2014, we focussed on the role of citizens and the importance of citizenship in Europe and in our last course from 2016 we paid attention to the issue of Human Security.

In this course we bring together students that are likely to have a future career within or connected with the public domain (and lecturers and researchers) from the socalled ‘old EU’ (especially the Netherlands), new and candidate member states of the EU and from the so-called ‘new neighbours’. The aim is to share and to discuss our knowledge and perspectives on the Challenges of Europe. The intensive international part of the course in Dubrovnik includes different longer and shorter plenary presentations by resource persons from different countries, workshop sessions with presentations by participants, forum debates, simulation games, future creating workshops, and so on. As lecturers and participants stay in the same hotel, discussions will be extended during evening hours within an informal setting.

Participants are obliged to give a workshop presentation and to prepare a paper in advance on research related to the central theme of the course. The participants will be asked to send in proposals for papers and workshop presentations. The proposals have to be related to the central theme of the course. Participants can for instance (or combine) different angles to approach the central theme of the course.

These may include, but are not limited to:

• identifying, describing and analyzing new or changing forms of social exclusion on a local, national, regional or European level (and showing the European dimension of it), especially those related to ideas of citizenship in its broadest sense

• focusing on and evaluating ways to address (intervention, public policy) forms of exclusion (and how relations with other countries and the EU influence these)

• focusing specifically on the possibilities and limitations of addressing these issues on a European level or by the EU.

During the months preceding the course a few introductory meetings will be organized and there will be assistance through information on the website and by e-mail. The final papers will be published on the website after the course. Furthermore, participants are expected to write a short summary of their own presentation and a short report on one of the other presentations. The summaries will be part of the hard copy and the e-version of the final report of the course. Requirements can be found on the website http://www.inclusionexclusion.eu


E-reader available March 1st 2018 on www.inclusionexclusion.eu.

In this e-reader you can find different types of documents (papers and articles) written by or recommended by the resource-persons of the 2018-course. These papers reflect their work and are related to the subjects they will introduce during the course. There will be no theoretical exam on the literature in the e-reader.


The course is primarily open to Masters and Phd students and for some honours students in their final bachelor year. For most participating departments this course has the character of a so-called ‘honours programme’. In general the course is aimed at students of disciplines that are dealing with issues related to the public domain (social sciences including e.g. sociology, political science, public administration and policy sciences, anthropology, European Studies, law, economics, organizational sciences etc.). The course is selective. The selection will be made by the course directors and/or the participating institutes.


Presentations, debates, workshops, games


For information on the program, costs, grants and the application procedure for Dubrovnik 2018, please contact Lieke Brand (course assistant). Reports from earlier editions (from 1998 to 2016) are available. See for the Inter University Center: www.iuc.hr. For the website of the course go to www.inclusionexclusion.eu.

Prof. dr. Wieger Bakker w.e.bakker@uu.nl

Lieke Brand BsC, course assistant l.i.brand@uu.nl