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date: 24 May 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces a novel approach to understanding populism in both a theoretically sophisticated and cross-regionally pertinent way. Focusing on ways of being and doing politics, and from there on appeals, populism is defined as the antagonistic, mobilizational “flaunting of ‘the low’.” The “low,” or cruder, personalistic, culturally “nativist,” and overall “less sublimated” way of being and doing politics, has thus three inter-related components, mirrored by those of its opposite, on the “high.” The high-low axis is fully orthogonal to the widespread and well-known left-right axis; together, they give rise to a two-dimensional political space. Furthermore, taking the two dimensions composing left and right and the two dimensions composing high and low, a novel “wheel” of axes of political polarization is introduced, useful for comparative analysis of regionally diverse populist/anti-populist divides, with different left-right polarities.

Keywords: populism, appeals, social inequality, leadership, identification, representation, ideology, nativism, political divides

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