Digital media allows populist messages to gain circulation, bypassing mainstream channels. This project aims to understand the extent of the impact such messages have among the general public.


Digital media are the most important way in which populism is promoted as they allow populist politicians, parties, and movements to bypass the mainstream media which they perceive as biased against them. It remains unclear, however, how widespread and impactful populist concerns are among online audiences and the general public.

In this project, we will use several methods, including surveys, tracking peoples’ website visits, and what they post online, in order to:

  1. map what ‘the People’ want
  2. analyse if they want similar or different things across Europe and the United States, and if so why
  3. investigate the effects of exposure to online populist grievances on (offline) political outcomes.

In providing answers to these questions, the project aims to improve understanding of the societal (macro) and the social-psychological (micro) processes behind the rise of populism. It is guided by the hypothesis that online populist grievances (i.e., the communication of and exposure to populist complaints) may constitute both a challenge and a corrective for representative democracies and, therefore, should be examined in all their complexity.