1st Edition

Populism in Global Perspective A Performative and Discursive Approach

    324 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    324 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Pathbreaking theoretically and innovative in treatment, Populism in Global Perspective is a seminal addition to the literature on arguably the most controversial and fervently discussed topic in political science today.

    The book brings together established and rising stars in the field of populism studies, in an integrated set of theoretical and empirical studies centered on a discursive-performative notion of populism. Contributors argue that populist identification is relational and sociocultural, and demonstrate the importance of studying populism phenomenologically together with anti-populism. The truly global series of case studies of populism in the US, Western and Southern Europe, Latin America, South Africa, the Philippines, and Turkey achieves a deliberate balance of left and right instances of populism, including within regions, and of populism in government and opposition.

    Written in a style approachable to students and specialists alike, the volume provides a substantial foundation for current knowledge on the topic. Populism in Global Perspective is a must read for comparativists, political theorists, sociologists, area studies specialists, and all educated readers interested in populism worldwide.

    1. Introduction

    Pierre Ostiguy, Francisco Panizza, and Benjamin Moffitt

    PART 1: Theory

    2. Populism, Hegemony and the Political Construction of "The People": A Discursive Approach

    Francisco Panizza and Yannis Stavrakakis

    3. Who Would Identify with an "Empty Signifier"? The Relational, Performative Approach to Populism

    Pierre Ostiguy and Benjamin Moffitt

    PART 2: Populist Identification in Global Perspective

    4. Populism as Synecdochal Representation: Understanding the Transgressive Bodily Performance of South American Presidents

    María Esperanza Casullo

    5. Rafael Correa and the Citizens’ Revolution in Ecuador: A Case of Left-Wing Non-Hegemonic Populism

    Samuele Mazzolini

    6. Trump and the Populist Presidency

    Joseph Lowndes

    7. Populism, Race and Radical Imagination: #FeelingTheBern in the Age of #Black Lives Matter

    Laura Grattan

    8. Populist Politics and the Politics of "Populism": The Radical Right in Western Europe

    Benjamin De Cleen, Jason Glynos, and Aurélien Mondon

    9. Populism in Government: The Case of SYRIZA (2015-2019)

    Grigoris Markou

    10. The High-Low Divide in Turkish Politics and the Populist Appeal of Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party

    Toygar Sinan Baykan

    11. Beyond Demagogues and Deplorables: Democratizing Populist Rhetoric in Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines

    Nicole Curato

    12. Out with the old, In with the new? The ANC and EFF’s Battle to Represent the South African "People"

    Sithembile Mbete

    13. Conclusions: Reflections on the Lessons Learned

    Francisco Panizza, Pierre Ostiguy, and Benjamin Moffitt


    Pierre Ostiguy is Professor in the Escuela de Administración Pública of the University of Valparaiso, in Chile. He received his PhD in political science at the University of California, Berkeley, and has taught as a regular faculty member in Canada, the United States, Argentina, and Chile. He has been a visiting scholar at the Kellogg Institute (Notre Dame) and the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence. He worked extensively on Peronism and anti-Peronism in Argentina, before turning to the political and social theory of populism and the comparative global study of populist politics. He is co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Populism (2017) and one of three contributors to its Concepts section. He has authored numerous articles on populism and on party systems in Spanish, French, and English. Extended interviews with Ostiguy have been featured in Esprit (France), Birikim (Turkey), and, on many occasions, in Argentina.

    Francisco Panizza is Professor in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has been a visiting professor in universities in Argentina, Brazil, France, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, and Uruguay. His main research interests are populism, democratic politics, and Latin American politics. He has written extensively on populism and on left-of-center governments in Latin America. He is a Routledge author and editor. Among his main publications are: "Populism and Identity" in The Oxford Handbook of Populism (2017); Conceptualizing Comparative Politics (ed. with Anthony Peter Spanakos) (2016); Moments of Truth: The Politics of Financial Crises in Comparative Perspective (ed. with George Philip) (2014); The Triumph of Politics: The Return of the Left in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador (with George Philip) (2011); Contemporary Latin America: Development and Democracy Beyond the Washington Consensus (2009); and, key for this volume, Populism and the Mirror of Democracy (Verso 2005).

    Benjamin Moffitt is Senior Lecturer in Politics and Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award Fellow at the Australian Catholic University (Melbourne). He received his PhD from the University of Sydney, Australia. His research focuses on contemporary populism across the globe and is located at the intersection of democratic theory, comparative politics, and political communications. He is the author of The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style, and Representation (Stanford 2016); Populism (Key Concepts in Political Theory) (Polity 2020); and Political Meritocracy and Populism (with Mark Chou and Octavia Bryant; Routledge, 2020). He has also authored articles on populism in journals including Political Studies and Government & Opposition, and chapters in numerous edited collections, including The Oxford Handbook of Populism (2017) and Routledge Handbook of Global Populism (2019). His work has appeared or been cited in media outlets including The Economist, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, BBC News, and The Guardian. In 2018, he was named among the Top 5 Humanities and Social Sciences early career researchers in Australia by the Australian Broadcasting Company.

    "This volume fills a major void in the study as of populism, as it pulls together different strands of scholarship that highlight populism’s socio-cultural and performative dimensions. The editors and other contributors build on the foundations of Laclau’s discursive approach to analyse the relational character of populist appeals, the cultural construction of populist identities, and the performative element in populist practices. The contributors illustrate the utility of these conceptual and theoretical insights through case studies of populism from around the world. This is an original and pathbreaking book, one that is sure to shape the agenda of populism studies for many years to come."

    Kenneth M. Roberts, Richard J. Schwartz Professor of Government, Cornell University

    "Hitherto, even most sympathetic theories of populism have recoiled from the corporeality of populist politics. This wonderful volume does more than put empirical flesh on the bones of theoretical abstraction; it takes the flaunting fleshiness of populist politics as its starting point."

    William Mazzarella, Neukom Family Professor of Anthropology, University of Chicago

    "One cannot understand contemporary politics without understanding populism, and this anthology offers a cornucopia of theoretical and empirical insights about the concept and its multiple and protean uses around the world. It is a scholarly achievement of the highest order."

    Michael Kazin, Professor of History, Georgetown University

    "In the increasingly crowded space of populist studies, Populism in Global Perspective stands out as a pathbreaker: it inaugurates a post-Laclauian approach to populism. The authors take on board Laclau’s discourse-theoretical framework and move it in another direction by offering a refreshing sociological grounding to the formalistic arguments about empty signifiers, the leader, and the people. For the authors, the name of the leader is not empty but full of life, with multifaceted and contradictory meanings that allow for many different forms of identification: it is an overflowing signifier. They see no point in talking about the purity or goodness of the people because for them the populist plebs is an embodied, damaged, angry, unheard, unrepresented and emotionally charged actor. Theirs is a political argument. Populism is about a performative constitution of a people that have been wronged and want to do something about it. And unlike Laclau’s flirtation with a Jacobin view of the populist mobilization, the authors understand the staging of this wrong as an exercise in populist citizenship to challenge the institutional setting, either to replace it or to expand its democratic boundaries. These are the building blocks of the post-Laclauian drive in the contributions to this volume."

    Benjamin Arditi, Professor of Politics, National University of Mexico (UNAM)

    "Few doubt the challenges and opportunities posed by the resurgence of populist politics in the current political conjuncture. Populism in Global Perspective: A Performative and Discursive Approach is an excellent collection of essays and reflections, which brings together leading experts in the field to problematize and engage with the populist moment. Articulating and developing a distinctive perspective, while injecting a valuable comparative and global focus, the volume adds vital theoretical, methodological, and substantive contributions to characterize and explain a pressing political issue across a range of highly pertinent cases."

    David Howarth, Professor, Department of Government, University of Essex

    "What is populism, and how should we respond to the recent populist 'explosion'? The questions have been posed many times from many different perspectives, but compelling answers remain elusive. This fine collection is therefore a welcome addition to the literature offering a much-needed global and comparative perspective often lacking in other works. The editors are to be congratulated in assembling a stellar cast of contributors. Between them they cast much-needed light on these pressing matters, resulting in a thought-provoking volume that will be essential reading for everyone interested in perhaps the key political phenomenon of our age."

    Simon Tormey, Dean of the Faculty of Social Scienses and Law, University of Bristol

    "This volume constitutes a major contribution to the study of contemporary populism. With its broad range of diverse cases, its fair and balanced treatment of the populist phenomenon, both left and right, and its theoretical richness, it stands out in the field. A masterful tribute to the groundbreaking work of Ernsto Laclau, it extends and enriches his insights by illustrating the central importance of style and performance for the understanding of populism’s appeal. Its innovative and theoretically sophisticated approach is bound to challenge and inspire anyone interested in the appeal of contemporary populism, which is likely to persist in the foreseeable future."

    Hans-Georg Betz, Lecturer of Political Science, University of Zurich