Emerging Research call for projects

Scientific, material and financial support to initiate innovative projects on high-stakes issues

The Emerging Research call for proposals supports research projects in the development phase. This support is intended to enable project leaders to define their methodology and to develop their research networks.

Leaders of selected research projects may request support from the FMSH's "ANR and Horizon Europe Project Development" unit for the development and preparation of applications to national and international funding programs.

Please note that projects and researchers already receiving support from the FMSH are not eligible for this call. Likewise, projects that were selected in previous years cannot benefit from this support again.


The selected themes for 2021-2022

Ecological Transition and Social Justice : Inventing New Operating Models

The current environmental crisis, to which has recently been added the global health crisis linked to the Covid-19 epidemic, poses an unprecedented challenge and calls for far-reaching changes in all political, economic and social practices, both at the individual and collective scales. Despite social and political awareness of the need and urgency for a transition, and despite research and technological advances on sustainability, the expected results are largely overdue. This is partly due to the fact that we do not have a sufficiently detailed and operational understanding of how transitions of this magnitude can be carried out, and to the absence of an overall project that can federate and commit citizens to act collectively, in a significant way, in favour of sustainability, for the thorough transformation of society and behaviour.

Because it implies the invention of new operating models to support and complement technical developments, the environmental transition seems only possible if it is fair and perceived as such. The relationship between environmental issues and the challenges of social justice, already posed by the Brundtland Commission 30 years ago, deserves to be put back at the center of discussions on sustainability and transition.


Populism and democracy

Beyond its historical and geographical avatars, the notion of populism is generally defined on the basis of the threefold principle of anti-elitism, the belief in a homogeneous people and the preference for an unmediated popular sovereignty. (Akkerman, Mudde et Zaslove 2014 ; Schulz et al. 2017).

Parties meeting these criteria have now become established in both young and consolidated democracies. By 2019, they were involved in the governments of eleven European countries, with one in four voters having voted for a populist party in the last major national election (Timbro Authoritarian Populism Index, 2019). Populist parties thrive as the gap between democratic aspirations and the often disappointing workings of liberal democracies widens (Rooduijn, van der Brug et de Lange 2016 ; Rosanvallon 2000). By putting forward a radical demand for popular sovereignty, populist parties appeal primarily to an electorate that is dissatisfied with representative democracy, and even questions the very principle of representation as an effective means of translating the will of the people into political decisions.

Populism can thus be seen as both a threat and an opportunity for democracy. Exclusive populism - often associated with the radical right since it limits the people to those born in the country and readily combines with xenophobic elements - can undermine democracy and lead to illiberal democratic regimes through its anti-pluralist component, by privileging an organic conception of the people that leads to the rejection of the rule of law, minority rights or the separation of powers. (Urbinati 1998).

On the other hand, a more inclusive populism - typically associated with the radical left, since it combines populist markers with left-wing ideological markers such as a better distribution of wealth - can deepen democracy by pushing political elites to take better account of popular demands. It can also empower social democratic parties and associative organizations with consensual narratives, which can increase the electoral participation of the working class and even unify their grievances (Mudde and Kaltwasser 2013) by constructing the people as a political subject (Laclau 2002).

This call for proposals aims to foster research that questions the ties between populism and democracy in France and worldwide, both from the perspective of populist supply (how populist parties emerge, how they organize themselves, their political platforms...) and from the perspective of populist demand (to what extent do individuals adhere to the idea that society is riven by a conflict between the people and the elites, and how is this moral antagonism combined with other ideological frames of reference...). Different disciplinary perspectives and approaches to populism (as a rhetoric, political strategy or ideology) can thus be mobilized. Theoretically, populist parties differ from extreme parties in that they accept democratic principles while rejecting certain aspects of liberal democracy. They thus challenge a Schumpeterian tradition in which the governed choose the governors to exercise their will in their place, and open the way to other, more horizontal and participatory logics of representation. Particular attention will be paid to projects that work on this link between populism and democratic innovations.


Akkerman Agnes, Mudde Cas et Zaslove Andrej, 2014, « How Populist Are the People? Measuring Populist Attitudes in Voters », Comparative Political Studies, 2014, vol. 47, no 9, p. 1324‑1353.

Laclau Ernesto, 2002, The Populist Reason, London, Verso.

Mudde Cas et Kaltwasser Cristóbal Rovira, 2013, « Exclusionary vs. Inclusionary Populism: Comparing Contemporary Europe and Latin America », Government and Opposition, 2013, vol. 48, no 2, p. 147‑174.

Rooduijn Matthijs, Brug Wouter van der et Lange Sarah L. de, 2016, « Expressing or fuelling discontent? The relationship between populist voting and political discontent », Electoral Studies, septembre 2016, vol. 43, p. 32‑40.

Rosanvallon Pierre, 2000, La démocratie inachevée, Paris, Gallimard.

Schulz Anne, Müller Philipp, Schemer Christian, Wirz Dominique Stefanie, Wettstein Martin et Wirth Werner, 2017, « Measuring Populist Attitudes on Three Dimensions », International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 2017.

Urbinati Nadia, 1998, « Democracy and Populism », Constellations, 1998, vol. 5, no 1, p. 110‑124.

Scientific partnership

Université Paris-Est Créteil Val-de-Marne (UPEC)
Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches de Sciences Administratives et Politiques (CERSA)

Mis à jour le
05 November 2021


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Perpignan social laboratory

A sociohistory of democratic representations of populism: a global and connected approach

The winners of the "Emerging research" call for projects