The Cultural Origins of Populism

42 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2022 Last revised: 17 Mar 2022

See all articles by Yotam Margalit

Yotam Margalit

Tel Aviv University

Shir Raviv

Tel Aviv University

Omer Solodoch

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: January 5, 2022

Abstract

The electoral success of right-wing populist parties is often attributed to disaffection among certain voters. But while economic explanations for this disaffection are theoretically clear and quantifiable, explanations centered on cultural factors offer vaguer accounts that are harder to evaluate empirically. We address this problem by theoretically distinguishing between five different “storylines” about the cultural origins of populism, and then test them using extensive data from Europe and the United States. Our analysis indicates that concerns about ethno-cultural change induced by immigration are central to understanding the populist vote; so, but to a lesser extent, is rural resentment and status anxiety. In contrast, explanations centered on communal disintegration or an intergenerational values divide are pertinent in only specific cases. The analysis helps disentangle the cultural forces associated with the rise of populism and highlights the heterogeneous coalitions that form the populist base across different countries.

Keywords: Right-wing populism, Cultural explanations, Voting behavior

Suggested Citation

Margalit, Yotam and Raviv, Shir and Solodoch, Omer, The Cultural Origins of Populism (January 5, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4001543 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4001543

Yotam Margalit

Tel Aviv University ( email )

Tel Aviv
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://www.ymargalit.net

Shir Raviv (Contact Author)

Tel Aviv University ( email )

Tel Aviv
Israel

Omer Solodoch

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19103
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.solodoch.com

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