Global Populism: Its Roots in Media and Religion| Islam as the Folk Devil: Hashtag Publics and the Fabrication of Civilizationism in a Post-Terror Populist Moment

Johanna Sumiala, Anu A. Harju, Emilia Palonen


With a focus on Twitter, this article investigates the populist moment triggered by a violent attack in the Northern European city of Turku, Finland, in August 2017. The article uses a mixed-method approach that applies a computational method for data collection and qualitative discursive mapping for data analysis. Moreover, the article applies Laclau’s non-essentialist framework for theorizing on populism in connection to religion and critically discusses the types of religious implications identified in the “us” constructed in negation to Islam and the discursively constructed “bad” Muslim Other. The article suggests “civilizationism” and the related “Christianism” as potential schemas for advancing scholarly theorizing on the digital intersections between populism and religion, particularly in the present Northern European political context.


populist moment, Islam, hashtag publics, Twitter, civilizationism, Christianism, terror attack, Laclau

Full Text: