With @meta and @melancon we more or less agreed to submit a proposal to the Understanding populism Horizon 2020 topic. We want to do this because, well, we care about the European project of peace through the Four Freedoms, and we are worried about the rise of nativist politics. We also happen to think that our Social Semantic Networks concept is a great fit to investigate how populism looks like to populists and to people on the receiving end of it. We can form any number of theories ("people worry about their jobs", "people are afraid to lose their cultural identity", "people are worried about putting pressure on welfare services"), but these are just stories. We do not know what it really looks like from out there, not outside of tiny echo chambers.
Thing is: our group has a powerful methodology for empirical research, but we do not have the domain expertise to lead an investigation like this. We need to rally behind a high-level lead investigator (a historian, or a sociologist, for example), with a small host of PhDs to deploy. So, we are looking for one.
I think the thing to do is to reach out for the Dandelion project. It is a coordination and support action "to support the uptake and valorisation of Inclusive, Innovative and Reflective Societies (IIRS) research and improve its dissemination towards citizens, policy makers, academia and media". IIRS is likely to be dead in the water, but it is not unreasonable to conjecture that some of it might live on in GOVERNANCE, the call that contains the populism topic.
The Dandelion crowd may have information about who is out there working on populism. Its coordinator is Q-Plan in Thessaloniki; the project manager is Iakovos Delioglanis, email@example.com