New Frank Furedi book puts focus on Europe’s populism

A new book by sociologist Frank Furedi analyses what he calls the ‘culture wars’ that have accompanied the perceived rise of populism in Europe.

Professor Furedi, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, argues that ‘influential anti-populist elites’ have distorted the true meaning of populism by attributing to it ‘a wide range of negative qualities’.

These include the claim that people who support populist causes are ‘irrational, uneducated, likely to be Eurosceptic and nationalist’, he writes.

In the book, entitled Populism and the European Culture Wars (Routledge, 14 August), Professor Furedi contends that the phenomenon of anti-populism has become a powerful narrative that ‘dominates the media landscapes’ in Western societies.

Using the example of Hungary as a case study, Professor Furedi argues that it is a ‘fundamental clash of values’ that has led to a ‘polarization of perceptions of reality in the debate over populism’.

Although the book’s focus is on the Hungarian question, Professor Furedi suggests that this helps illuminate the underlying societal patterns that are shaping the ‘conflict of values’ throughout the EU.

Contrasting attitudes towards national sovereignty, popular sovereignty and the questions of tradition and the past ‘are the main drivers of the culture wars in Europe,’ he writes.