2020/ 2021

Bojan Baća

Mobility Phase: Max Weber Institute of Sociology, Heidelberg University

Between Post-Truth Politics and Epistemocracy: Understanding the Populist and Pseudo-Scientific Contestation of Democracy in the Digital Public Sphere

Bojan Baća is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg (2021–2023). He received his PhD in Sociology from York University, to which he still remains affiliated as an external Research Associate in the Global Digital Citizenship Lab. Before becoming a re:constitution Research Fellow at the Max Weber Institute of Sociology, Heidelberg University, he held postdoctoral positions at the Institute of Sociological Studies, Charles University, the Center for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz, the Institute for Advanced Study, New Europe College, and the Center for Advanced Studies, University of Rijeka. His scholarly work was published in academic journals such as Antipode and Europe-Asia Studies, as well as in the edited volumes “Resistances: Between Theories and the Field, Activist Citizenship in Southeast Europe, Changing Youth Values in Southeast Europe: Beyond Ethnicity, The Democratic Potential of Emerging Social Movements in Southeastern Europe, A New Eastern Question? Great Powers and the Post-Yugoslav States” (forthcoming), and “When Students Protest, Vol. 2: Universities in the Global South” (forthcoming). Most recently, the Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts recognized him as the best young Montenegrin scholar in the areas of social sciences and humanities.

Between Post-Truth Politics and Epistemocracy: Understanding the Populist and Pseudo-Scientific Contestation of Democracy in the Digital Public Sphere

The project explores the Alternative Right – commonly known as the Alt-Right – as a multifaceted challenge to democratic values/institutions. By identifying and analyzing the Alt-Right's "regimes of critique" of democratic values and "regimes of justification" of alternatives it offers to these principles, the project pays special attention to the content of populist/ethnonational politics, anti-expertise/pseudo-scientific ideas, and conspiracy theories in Alt-Right online discourse, the cultural practices through which these narratives are disseminated to the general public, and their socio-political consequences. The project fills the gap in scholarly literature on our understanding of how everyday civic/political engagement on social media platforms – especially during an unprecedented pandemic such as Covid-19 – is promoting, legitimizing, and mainstreaming populist ideas that, in aggregate, create "epistemic cultures" that contest, criticize, and delegitimize democracy, civic values, scientific knowledge, expertise, and the rule of law. The project is based on the premise that the case of the Alt-Right gives a unique opportunity to explore how the technologically-driven intersection of the political, the everyday, and the digital is rendering post-truth politics the dominant condition in the online space, in the process reshaping data quality, misinformation/disinformation, and factual verification surrounding key socio-political problems and, ultimately, negatively affecting policy making.