Right Wing Populist Civic Movements: Western Experience and the Situation in Russia

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-3-120-129
A. Mitrofanova (anastasia-mit@mail.ru), 
Institute of Sociology, Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Krzhizhanovskogo Str., 24/35, bld. 5, 117218, Moscow, Russian Federation.
O. Mikhailenok (m-oleg-m@yandex.ru), 
Institute of Sociology, Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Krzhizhanovskogo Str., 24/35, bld. 5, 117218, Moscow, Russian Federation

Abstract. The article aims at identifying the characteristics shared by the right-wing populist civil movements of Western Europe and the USA and evaluating the possibility to use them for researching right-wing nationalist organizations in Russia. The movements selected for the comparison range from party-like electoral actors to unorganized protesters. They include as follows: The Five-star Movement (Italy), PEGIDA and the like (Germany), the English Defence League (the UK), the Tea Party Movement (the US). The authors identified several interrelated characteristics shared by these movements: (1) dealing with local, usually social, issues, (2) network-like structure of autonomous local groups building the agenda from below, (3) ideological ambivalence leading to replacing ideology with subculture, (4) digitalization of activism. Although in Russia there are no civic movements structurally or functionally identical to Western right-wing populists, the authors demonstrate that local social issues and civic responsibility have become important topics for some Russian nationalists (right-wing radicals) since the mid 2000s. The trends of deideologization and dealing with non-political local issues are researched mainly on the example of the “Frontier of the North” (Komi Republic). The authors conclude that some of the radical Russian nationalists are gradually declining their own independent agenda, following local protests instead. This opens up the possibility for right-wing organizations to become local civil society institutions and to participate successfully in local elections, similar to the “electoral break-through” of right-wing populists in the West. Although it is too early to speak about the deideologization of Russian nationalism, the article suggests that some nationalists are ready to mitigate ideological tensions to secure expanded social support. At the moment, nationalist organizations in Russia remain frozen between right-wing radicalism and emulating Western right-wing populism. 

Keywords: right-wing populism, civic movements, Russian nationalism, right-wing movements, deideologization, network movements, digitalization


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For citation:
Mitrofanova A., Mikhailenok O. Right Wing Populist Civic Movements: Western Experience and the Situation in Russia. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 3, pp. 120-129. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-3-120-129

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