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date: 10 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Populism is an essentially contested concept, given that scholars even contest the essence and usefulness of the concept, while a disturbingly high number of scholars use the concept without ever defining it. Though it is still far too early to speak of an emerging consensus, it is undoubtedly fair to say that the ideational approach to populism is the most broadly used in the field today. This chapter outlines the ideational approach to populism, presents the author's own ideological definition, discusses its key concepts (ideology, the people, the elite, and the general will), and highlights its main strengths—i.e. distinguishability, categorizability, travelability, and versatility—compared to other approaches.

Keywords: populism, ideology, ideational approach, comparative politics, democracy

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