A programme of research and facilitation focused on creating tools for challenging the rival political narratives that shape xenophobic populist and radical politics.
Counterpoint’s analysis will focus on France and Norway.
For Counterpoint, the project is an opportunity to explore a crucial dimension of how politics happens from below: how myths and rumours develop and spread, how they are influenced by local and regional historical and political cultures, and how these serve to refine the ways in which people engage in politics. Rival political narratives and alternative explanations for events are crucial examples of how popular cultural narratives can undermine trust in liberal democratic institutions.
For example, we are asking ‘how do conspiracy theories become available political resources, catalysts for discontent, and tactics for mobilisation’?
Our approach is evidenced-based and holistic. We engage with rival political narratives in order to understand them and the wider social and cultural background within which they become available political resources, catalysts for discontent, and tactics for mobilisation. With a focus on xenophobic stories of elite complicity and treachery, our aim is to facilitate conversations about how these often insidious and dangerous versions of reality can be checked, challenged and finally short-circuited.
The project will be a collaborative initiative with a range of organisations. Our principle project partner is the Hungary-based political consultancy, Political Capital. Working on a range of strategic issues, from right wing extremism to election research and economic forecasting, Political Capital are market leaders in their region, and will be managing the Eastern Dimension of the project, including work in Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. Other cooperating institutions include: The Center for Research on Prejudice, the Institute for Public Affairs, and the Tom Lantos Institute.
Counterpoint’s participation in the project is supported by Open Society Foundations. Other contributors to the project include: Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, the Visegrad Fund and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.