Culture in the Name of the People? Towards a typology of populism and culture

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Populism is a topic that has been widely studied over the past decades but mostly from a political perspective. These contributions mainly focus on the analysis of populism as a (socio) political phenomenon placed in a historical, global context. A second field of interest covers the mass appeal of populist parties. The latter is not only a timely, highly relevant issue right now but also sheds light on the flaws of liberal democracy.
While a lot of academic effort has been put into defining populism and explaining the reasons for its success, the underlying cultural beliefs on which populist 'us' and 'them' dichotomies are based remain unclear. We shall therefore come up with a typology of culture and populism. This typology will reveal how various aspects of culture (such as popular culture, cultural images, and literary works) are prevalent in the populist construction of ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Based on examples from France and The Netherlands (two countries with major right-wing populist parties), the typology will differentiate between sociofacts, mentifacts and artifacts (cf. Huxley), and their use and appropriation by populist actors. The artifacts category comprises what I call ‘organic authors’ and ‘appropriated authors’, a terminology borrowed from Gramsci. The difference between the two, as will be shown, is the author’s identification with and articulation of certain kinds of ideas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-132
Number of pages14
JournalDebats. Journal on culture, power and society
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Cultural Studies
  • Populism
  • Cultural Identity
  • France
  • The Netherlands

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