Populism: Utility of its Approaches and the Prospects of the Phenomenon's Resurgence in America

  • Daniel Abankwa University of Delaware
Keywords: Populism, Ideational Approach, Democracy, Elections, policy


Populism in the twenty-first century became prominent in scholarly circles following Brexit and the 2016 electoral victory of Donald Trump. As democracy and globalization enthusiasts least anticipated these two monumental events in modern history, much emphasis came to be placed on the nature of populism and what conditions led to its manifestation in contemporary times. Working within this background, this study aims to review the ideational, political strategy and discursive approaches to the populism phenomenon and unpack the relative utility of each approach. I offer a thoughtful perspective that while the ideational approach’s “thin-centered” strand has the tendency to blur the boundaries of populism and lead scholars to accept “anything” as populism; it nevertheless enables us to comprehensively capture populism usage in multiple contexts. Further, I advance the notion that the 2020 electoral defeat of Donald Trump should not be misconstrued as the end or weakening of right-wing populism; the present state of American politics makes it ripe for populism resurgence.


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