Whirl of Knowledge: Cultural Populism in European Polarised Politics and Societies

Project: Academy of Finland: Academy Programme

Project Details

Description (abstract)

WhiKnow’s trans-generational and interdisciplinary team studies polarisation in contemporary societies, identifying a ‘whirl of knowledge’ that intertwines media, politics and science. The project engages in theoretical and comparative empirical work, combining big data with qualitative and experimental research and media ethnography.

WhiKnow explores how social media hypes brokers or meaning-makers and how these produce identifications, affects and emotions in polarisation. Politicians promote polarized forms of knowledge, scientists take part in talk shows and journalists step in as politicians. A neutrally intended scientific tweet can end up in a completely different constellation – trolled and contributing to political antagonism.

It appears that the affective spin of the ‘Whirl of Knowledge’ is fueled by blending and intertwining knowledge, ‘cultural populism’, and polarizing knowledge that generates new forms of subjectivity. Affect, belief, and intimacy molds together media, politics and science, and previously distinct modes of knowledge in social media may lose their status as democracy’s control mechanisms as societies polarize.

We study how societies change through relation and transmission of knowledge. The polarised societies in East Central Europe we study are relevant for the future of Europe: Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Czech Republic. Our partners engage us in other polarised/ing societies: Belgium, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the UK.
Short titleWhiKnow
Effective start/end date01/01/201931/12/2022


  • Suomen Akatemia Projektilaskutus: €485,639.00

Fields of Science

  • 517 Political science
  • 518 Media and communications
  • 511 Economics
  • 611 Philosophy