Power in History - Center for Political History (University of Antwerp) pays attention to the different levels and appearances of politics, but focuses primarily on the multifaceted (real and/or imagined) interaction between 'formal' and 'informal' politics. Central to this approach are political institutions, which in recent political history have often been neglected.
These institutions, however, are not considered as mere juridical constructions, but as complex points of intersection where social, economic and cultural tendencies converge and receive new impulses. Therefore, the scope of the research group comprises both the expectations of (groups of) citizens towards institutions, and the ways in which the latter try to acquire or maintain legitimacy in a given social, economic and cultural context.
In either case, conscious and explicit strategies come into view as well as implicit (positive or negative) links between formal and informal politics. At the level of the conscious strategies, we study political representation, active propaganda and the cultural policies deployed by authorities to gain legitimacy in society, as well as the mobilisation within society in favour of or against the official policies. At the level of the implicit links between formal and informal politics, we pay attention to the (lack of) interplay between institutional or hegemonic discourses and practices on the one hand, and more subaltern discourses and practices on the other.