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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Political theory tends to react to upsurges in populist politics in the real world, explaining them in turn as largely reactions to contemporary political crises, and in terms of regional styles, American or European most commonly. But for students of political theory, populism in theory and in practice has only been contingently, rather than structurally, related to the history of democratic politics and the growth of popular sovereignty. This chapter argues by contrast that populism is part of the mainstream structural history of popular sovereignty, and moreover, that such a history connects European and American democratic politics from the period of the 1848 revolutions through to the present. Taking populist politics as one component part of this transnational history, it also claims that the derivative reliance upon different national styles of populism misses something deeper about the relationship between populism and modern political theory.

Keywords: populism, popular sovereignty, history, transnational, style, political theory

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