Varieties of Populism: Literature Review and Research Agenda
Working Paper Series, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, No.13-0004
39 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2014
Date Written: 2013
In recent years, populism has attracted considerable interest from social scientists and political commentators. Yet the term ‘populism’ remains both widely used and widely contested. It has been defined based on political, economic, social, and discursive features and analyzed from myriad theoretical perspectives and a variety of methodological approaches.
This literature review surveys different academic approaches to the study of populism. It aims at promoting the theoretical understanding of the concept and opening new methodological pathways for the study of populist politics. The timeframe of the research we survey spans from the late 19th century to the present day, and its geographical focus ranges from Eastern Europe and Latin America to the Anglo-American democracies. A comprehensive discussion of the research on the topic is timely and warranted, considering the role of populist politics in contemporary democracies.
Keywords: populism, populist politics, comparative politics, political sociology, populist right, populist left, populist parties
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