Populism in Power
Discourse and Performativity in SYRIZA and Donald Trump
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Shifting attention away from policy achievements and effects on democracy, Giorgos Venizelos focuses on the charismatic function of populist discourse – comprising antagonistic narratives, transgressive style and appeals to the common people.
The book puts forward an integrative approach that brings together discourse analysis, analysis of digital media, in-depth interviews and ethnographic methods, and places into comparative perspective the cases of SYRIZA in Greece and Donald Trump in the USA. Theorising populism through the lens of collective identification, Venizelos places the rhetorical and emotional dynamics of populist performativity at the core of the analysis, offering a rigorous yet flexible conceptulisation of populism in power. Against theoretical expectations, findings suggest that both SYRIZA and Trump retained, to different degrees, their populist character in power, although their style and vision differed vastly.
This book urges researchers, journalists and politicians to adopt a reflexive approach to analysing the political implications of populism for politics, polity and society, and to challenge the normatively charged definitions that are uncritically reproduced in the public sphere. It will appeal to researchers of political theory, populism, comparative politics, sociologists, and ethnographers.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Populism(s) in Power 2. Populism in Greece and the United States: Politics, History, Culture 3. SYRIZA in Opposition (2012–2015) 4. SYRIZA in Government (2015–2019) 5. The Rise of Donald Trump: ‘Make America Great Again!’ 6. Donald Trump in Power: ‘Keep America Great!’ 7. Left and Right-wing Populists in Government: A Comparative Analysis Conclusion Appendix
Giorgos Venizelos researches left-wing populist social movements, parties and leaderships, the ways they construct collective identities, and the anti-populist forces that oppose them. He is also interested in right-wing radical discourses opposing political correctness and environmental justice. www.giorgosvenizelos.com
"It was once assumed that populists could not survive once in power, but recent history has shown us how very wrong this assumption was. Comparing two of the most important cases of populism in power on the left and the right in recent years – the cases of SYRIZA in Greece and Donald Trump in the US respectively – Giorgos Venizelos’ masterful book pushes our understanding of the phenomenon of populism forward in several ways. It works across regional and ideological lines, interrogates the relationship between populism and anti-populism, and creatively analyses populist discourse, visuals and performances to make sense of how and why populism operates and sometimes changes when in power. Theoretically sophisticated yet empirically grounded, cleverly argued and methodologically innovative, it is required reading not only for those interested in populism, but in the rapidly changing landscape of contemporary politics more generally."
Benjamin Moffitt, Associate Professor Australian Catholic University