Countering Oppositional Political Extremism Through Attuned Dialogue: Track, Attune, Limit
Track | Attune | Limit
OppAttune tracks the evolution of oppositional extreme ideologies and protectionist decision-making, develops an innovative attunement model and tests a series of interventions at the national and transnational levels which limit the spread of extremism
To track the evolution of extreme political narratives in three keys areas: the on-line and off-line media, citizen decision-making, local neighbourhoods and living democracies. Tracking will establish the psychological, sociological, and anthropological drivers of extremism
To attune the public’s capacity for dialogue by modelling how the evolution of extreme political narratives impact social and political dialogue within everyday contexts
To limit the evolution of extreme narratives and their potential for political transformations which disrupt democratic processes, such as elections and referendums.
A Working Objective
The working objectives of OppAttune are to understand the evolution and parameters of everyday extremism. Where it starts, in what local contexts, and in what actions. How it relates to violent political extremism but equally how it relates to citizen activism, social movements, and pathways within democracy. In order to limit the spread of extreme political narratives we will establish a set of benchmarking metrics on everyday extremism
The idea of OppAttune was developed to acknowledge and harness the vital role that oppositional thinking and behaviour plays in politics and the democratic process. But equally to acknowledge that the same oppositional thinking leads to a divisive ‘us’ and ‘them’ logic, which connects to polarisation. Oppositional politics often mobilises a sense of threat and risk. OppAttune defines extremism as a wish to remove or annihilate the other person or party.
OppAttune develops an attunement model which will limit the evolution of extreme political narratives. The process of attunement will enable specific political situations – such as elections and referenda – which inevitably become oppositional to remain in tune between the relevant parties.
OppAttune’s main innovation will be to develop an Attunement Model for six key target groups: the general public, young citizens, media influencers, practitioners & policymakers, political actors, and the scientific research community. The model will enable citizens to understand, analyse and develop democratic capacity to engage in public dialogue within oppositional politics. OppAttune will implement this Attunement Model within Year 3 and provide the European Commission and the target groups with recommendations and strategies for building citizen’s democratic capacity.
This will allow stakeholders to operate within oppositional political environments – in particular the ability to detect and reject extreme narratives. OppAttune will do this by explicitly focusing on both the means through which democratic practices are engaged in everyday life (through local community interactions and social media) and the shared messages that, potentially, threaten democratic practices by promoting extreme narratives
Why is it important to understand extreme political narratives?
Democracies and the European project are under threat because of rising extremism. Extreme political narratives have emerged as a result of austerity, economic insecurities, and the on-going refugee-related crises. In recent years, extreme political narratives have also been exacerbated by the global Covid-19 pandemic
These extreme narratives foster an ‘Us vs. Them’ logic where mistrust, disinformation, and conspiracy theories can thrive. Such narratives create alternative information sources that offer appealingly simple solutions to complex issues and manifest into mainstream political discourse to disrupt democratic growth. Understanding extreme political narratives using the Attunement tool-kit provided by OppAttune will allow both organisations and individuals to engage with oppositional politics and foster productive dialogue.