Psychosocial approach: Communication and social listening in polarised contexts
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Us versus Them

Populism is a strategy of constructing a political boundary that divides society into two camps, “us” and “them”, and calls for the mobilisation of the “losers” against the “powerful”.

The ideological and institutional content of this struggle is largely contingent. It depends on how the boundary between the two groups is drawn, as well as on the socio-economic structures and the corresponding historical contexts in which it is embedded.

The strategy is polarisation: “us against them”

Populists look for a common enemy: the power mafia, the elites, the immigrants. The “us” includes the populists and all their supporters. With “they” they include adversaries that are not always possible to identify very precisely, but which are present in the social imaginary: the rich, the banks, private companies, the European Union, traditional politicians, neoliberals, other parties, or simply other people or institutions that, in an unclear way, according to them, should be there, in the adversaries.

The issue at hand is that populists, in their desire to gain popularity and appeal to the masses, solely focus on addressing concerns and fears that resonate with many people. They make promises of quick and effortless solutions without giving sufficient consideration to the complexity of these problems and the intricacy of their resolutions. Unfortunately, this superficial approach to reality crumbles when subjected to deeper scrutiny and analysis.

Instead of participating in constructive debates and logical discussions, populists frequently rely on insults and discrediting their opponents, sidestepping the opportunity for substantial dialogue. They also tend to overlook the fact that people hold diverse opinions, preferences, and desires, which is crucial in a democratic society. There is not THE people, but a rich plurality of groups and ideas in the population.

Us versus Them
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