1st Edition

A Cultural Approach to Populism

By Juha Herkman Copyright 2022
    138 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    138 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book is a critical introduction of theorisations and research on contemporary political populism emphasising the cultural perspective. It introduces the basic theories and analyses the cultural construction of populism regarding radical democratic theory and empirical studies.

    Applying Ernesto Laclau’s and Chantal Mouffe’s theories, the author builds a bridge between radical democratic and ideational approaches on populism with examples and studies that emphasise European radical right populism, alongside the United States, Latin American and Asian cases. Special attention is paid to relationships between populism and democracy and between populism and media. The contemporary appeal of populism is linked to current developments in welfare states and in global economic and cultural trends. The future of populism is discussed in regard to COVID-19 pandemic and Donald Trump’s fall in the US presidential elections in 2020 that together with abovementioned global megatrends and with the development of media and communication environment set conditions for the 2020s populism.

    Scholars and students of political science, media and communication studies, cultural studies and social sciences will find this a unique and novel approach.


    Chapter 1 – What is populism?

    Chapter 2 – A short history of different populisms

    Chapter 3 – Populism and democracy

    Chapter 4 – Populism and media

    Chapter 5 – Three perspectives on populism

    Conclusion: Populism after the pandemic and Trump?


    Juha Herkman is Professor of Media and Communication Studies at the University of Helsinki.

    "Herkman has written a comprehensive analysis of populism that interrogates its cultural aspects in order to produce a novel explanation of its appeal. His argument is theory-based and draws examples from various countries. The book brings into dialogue various analytical and conceptual streams from political science, sociology and communication studies. This is an important contribution to a burgeoning literature on the subject".

    Silvio R. Waisbord, Director and Professor, School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University, USA

    "The spectre of authoritarian populism is haunting the halls of democracy posing urgent challenges to our understanding of contemporary politics. Drawing on a wide range of sources Herkman offers a comprehensive guide to contending approaches combining research on the organisation of populist parties and movements with cultural analysis of the emotionally resonant symbols and narratives employed to construct populist identities. Accessible, and provocative. This a book to enjoy and argue with".

    Graham Murdock, Emeritus Professor of Culture and Economy,Loughborough University, UK