Our Research Team has been meeting since 2005 to examine questions of communication and civil society…

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focusing on public engagement, political consumerism, contentious politics, and the possibility of civic repair.

Our recent attention has shifted to the politics of resentment and the rise of populism.

In 2016
  • Right wing populist movements in Britain, aided by a campaign of misinformation, successfully pushed for Brexit.
  • A right wing populist, Donald Trump, won the presidency of the United States, partly by dominating news coverage
Since 2016
  • Right wing populist movements consolidated power in Hungary, Poland, Italy, and Brazil.
  • Populists won parliamentary seats in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, and the Netherlands.
In 2018
  • Many U.S. states shifted control back to Democrats or moderate Republicans, suggesting a “Blue Wave”
  • Left-leaning candidates won governorships in Illinois, Michigan, Kansas, Maine, Wisconsin, and Nevada.

Our Story

It’s rare when we get to bring such an illustrious and diverse group of scholars, and even more rare when they can inform the thinking around an ambitious project at its early stages. That is what this conference did for our work on Wisconsin’s communication ecology and political contention. The almost immediate transfer of knowledge into research efforts fostered a rapid rate of discovery. ~Dhavan Shah

Since 2016, the Communication and Contentious Politics Project has received grants totaling some $683K.

$411,000 from the University of Wisconsin in the WARF Discovery Competition, $150,000 from the Hewlett Foundation, $72,000 from the Tommy Thompson Center, and $50,000 from the Damm Fund of the Journal Foundation to support its study of political contention and communication ecologies in Wisconsin and other states.

News Articles Collected
Over 60 Billion Tweets Collected
Raised In Grant Funding

Faculty Organizers

Ready to create change with the University of Wisconsin School of Journalism and Mass Communication?

A word from participants
at the #cpcd event…

  • If ever there was a time we needed to better understand the impacts of populist communications, this is it, and this conference felt like an important part of that journey.

    Ceri Hughes - Grad Student
  • This conference was among the first to bring together leading international scholars in communication, political science, sociology, and history to address the role changing digital media systems play in driving the global wave of populism.

    Hernando Rojas - Associate Professor
  • The really interesting thing about your study is what kind of polarization is taking place between these different kinds of [groups] and how can we measure it?

    Sven Engesser - Professor of Science and Technology Communication at Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
  • One of the great strengths you have in your data, which you possibly didn’t highlight enough – is the whole dynamic nature…

    Jörg Matthes - Professor & Chair of the Dept of Communication, University of Vienna, Austria

Grad Students