Re-fashioned Socio-Cultural Frames: The Populist Radical Right and Russian Influence in Post-Soviet EU Spaces

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Politics and International Studies


This project is a comparative case study which investigates frame resilience in post-soviet EU spaces. Specifically, it explores whether the reality that Populist Radical Right Parties in Post-Soviet spaces (PRRPPS) are constructing, via their socio-cultural framing practices, is changing in relation to Russian-related geo-political shocks. This is important as it draws a unifying tangent between culture and geo-politics, aligning two components of populism which the literature has failed to associate.

Providing an empirical case which traces frame evolution, this project demonstrates how framing choices are curtailed by a complex and interlocking web of historical and social contexts and explores how PRRPPS accommodate this contextual "baggage." Specifically, this relates to assessing whether these legacies either succor or stunt the reality PRRPPS can legitimately construct; before examining whether this translates into particular frames, or framing packages, succumbing to modification or abandonment pressures.

Research Questions
This project asks the core research question 'How do Populist Radical Right Parties in Post-Soviet EU spaces (PRRPPS) frame traditional socio-cultural policies, and to what extent have these frames been modified or abandoned in response to geo-political shocks?'
In order to respond to this question effectively, three sub-questions are adopted:
RQ1:How do PRRPPS frame a socio-cultural program which strives to preserve cultural heritage and traditional values?
RQ2:To what extent do these frames rely on geo-political legacies and/or historical precedents in order to evoke either a positive or negative Russian (Soviet) connotation? and
RQ3:To what extent, and in what ways, have Russian-related geo-political shocks affected the content, style, or emphasis of PRRPPS framing practices?

By systematically answering each in turn, this project provides empirical evidence which explains when, and under what circumstances, PRRPPS are likely to continue to use a specific frame; engage in light adjustment or modification; or, due to overwhelming evidence that it is no longer suitable or constructive, decide to abandon the frame altogether.
Case Selection
In line with this thematic thread of centralising recent geo-political instability, empirical cases are selected on the basis that their portrayed attitude towards Russia diverges substantially. Accordingly, the following cases are selected: Fidesz, who are pragmatically pro-Russian; Law and Justice Party (PiS), who are vocally anti-Russian; and finally, The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) who occupy a flexible space but were traditionally anti-ethnic Russian. This case selection adheres to a most-similar systems design and thereby enables this project to investigate what configurations of "Russian baggage" are the most problematic.

Methodologically, the project adopts an explanatory, sequential approach, which combines primary and secondary research practices. Specifically, this incorporates a variation of (critical) discourse analysis, and multimodal discourse analysis (imagery, videos etc.) to analyse political discourse authored or broadcast by the Populist Radical Right. This is then enriched by a series of semi-structure elite interviews which are designed to triangulate understanding and reveal hidden pressures that cannot be obtained via secondary research.

In terms of original contributions to knowledge, this project contributes theoretically by engaging in the literature on populism, framing and nostalgia; conceptually by unifying the cultural and geo-political components of populism; and finally, empirically by providing a detailed account of frame evolution, collecting original data via elite interviews, and including Estonia, as an understudied case in Populist research.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000711/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2570494 Studentship ES/P000711/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Holly Rodgers