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The Global Rise of PopulismPerformance, Political Style, and Representation$
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Benjamin Moffitt

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780804796132

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804796132.001.0001

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The Problems with Populism

The Problems with Populism

(p.11) 2 The Problems with Populism
The Global Rise of Populism

Benjamin Moffitt

Stanford University Press

This chapter traces the historical development of the term ‘populism’, tracing its etymological roots from the US Populist Party of the late nineteenth century through populism’s conceptual ‘journeys’ across the twentieth century, before providing a critical overview of contemporary debates about how to define it. It identifies the four central approaches to populism in the current literature – populism as ideology, strategy, discourse and political logic – and outlines the key authors, central arguments and key features of each approach. In doing so, it balances the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches, overall showing that while the features of populism that each approach identifies may be valid – for example, nearly all agree on the centrality of ‘the people’ versus ‘the elite’ or some Other – there are problems with the social science categories they use to describe the phenomenon.

Keywords:   populism, ideology, strategy, discourse, political logic, Europe, Latin America, Populist Party, Laclau, neopopulism

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