Varieties of Populism: Literature Review and Research Agenda


In recent years, populism has attracted considerable interest from social scientists and political commentators (Panizza 2005, Bale et al. 2011, Mudde 2004, Berezin 2013, Rovira Kaltwasser 2013), despite the fact that, “[t]he mercurial nature of populism has often exasperated those attempting to take it seriously” (Stanley 2008, 108). Indeed, the term ‘populism’ is both widely used and widely contested (Roberts 2006; Barr 2009).1 It has been defined based on political, economic, social, and discursive features (Weyland 2001, 1) and analyzed from myriad theoretical perspectives—including structuralism, post-structuralism, modernization theory, social movement theory, party politics, political psychology, political economy, and democratic theory—and a variety of methodological approaches, such as archival research, discourse analysis, and formal modeling (Acemoglu et al. 2011, Ionescu and Gellner 1969, Canovan 2002, Hawkins 2009, Goodliffe 2012, Postel 2007). As observed by Wiles, “to each his own definition of populism, according to the academic axe he grinds” (Wiles, in Iunescu and Gellner 1969, p. 166).

Last updated on 09/12/2013