Consortium will study extremism

and design a strategy to encourage non-violent political and social dialogue

Analyzing the evolution and growth of political extremism in everyday life and designing a strategy to stimulate non-extremist political and social dialogue is the central proposal of the research project “OppAttune – Countering Oppositional Political Extremism through Attuned Dialogue: Track, Attune, Limit”.

It will be developed by a consortium of fifteen countries in Europe and neighboring countries, with Portugal being one of the territories analyzed in this research, which in the Portuguese context is coordinated by the University of Coimbra (UC), through the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies (CEIS20-UC) and the Interdisciplinary Research Institute (iiiUC).

The project, which brings together 17 partners, aims to limit the scope and progression of extremist and violent political narratives, transforming oppositional thinking through social and political dialogue. It is funded by the European Commission through the Horizon Europe program, under the so-called “Reshaping Democracies”, which supports research dedicated to studying the evolution of political extremism and its influence on contemporary, social, and political dialogue. It will start in April of this year, running until March 2026, and will involve the general public, young citizens, digital influencers, decision-makers, and political actors, as well as the research community.

As Joana Ricarte, UC researcher and project coordinator in Portugal, puts it, «in the current context, in which we observe the growth throughout the world of discourses and practices that confront democratic institutions, such as, for example, the recent images coming from Brasília, capital of Brazil, it is vital to understand the processes that lead to the emergence of extremist thoughts and behavior, developing strategies to combat violent political extremism». The CEIS20-UC researcher emphasizes that the project aims to show «that opposing thoughts are vital, being natural and healthy in a democracy, as long as they do not turn into violent dialogues and practices».

«It is essential to create democratic resilience and equip citizens with ways to deal with oppositional thinking», highlights Joana Ricarte. It is based on this need that the “OppAttune” project will design an attunement model, which «will seek to stimulate political dialogue, increasing its flexibility, despite tensions and opposition, without creating extremist and violent political projects», adds the specialist in Political Science and International Relations. This “attunement model” will materialize through the creation of a tool called “I-Attune”, «which, functioning as a kind of self-test, will allow citizens to detect and reject extremist narratives, helping to transform in a positive way, opposing thinking», explains Joana Ricarte. Other contributions will also be developed, namely tools and support materials to facilitate the diagnosis of extremist social and political environments, interactive online platforms, games, and maps of extremism, as well as various actions with decision-makers and political actors and the general public to disseminate the knowledge produced in the scope of research.

OppAttune” will bring together 17 institutions from 15 countries, given that the transnationality of extremist political discourses is central to a study in this area, as «evidence suggests that extremist ideas, although articulated and adapted to meet specific national contexts, increasingly spread among national media ecosystems, through social media, thus accelerating the transnationalization of extremist movements», contextualizes the researcher.

In Portugal, the project will be implemented in several cities – namely Coimbra, Évora, Portalegre, Guarda, Viseu, Faro, and Vila Real –, a sample that covers areas where there has been an «exponential growth of a political party whose ideological base and speeches are based on in explicit racism, misogyny, xenophobia and populism and in the propagation of hate speech, misinformation and conspiracy theories, following a transnational trend», explains Joana Ricarte. In 2025, Coimbra will host the OppAttune Winter Academy, aimed at decision-makers and political actors. Between 2025 and 2026, several events will be organized in Portugal to promote the involvement of citizens in the project.

Being a multidisciplinary project, “OppAttune” will involve researchers from several countries, and specialists in areas such as Social and Political Psychology, History, Anthropology, Political Science and International Relations, Media and Communication, Law, Economics, and Sociology. At the University of Coimbra, the project also has the collaboration of Luís Trindade, professor at the Faculty of Arts and researcher at CEIS20-UC.

The consortium is coordinated by the Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, in Greece, and scientifically coordinated by The Open University, in the United Kingdom. This project also includes institutions from Germany, France, Sweden, Austria, Malta, Turkey, Cyprus, Slovenia, Serbia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Bosnia.

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