Despite the burgeoning literature on right-wing populism, there is still considerable uncertainty about its causes, its impact on liberal democracies and about promising counter-strategies. Inspired by recent suggestions that (1) the emancipatory left has made a significant contribution to the proliferation of the populist right; and (2) populist movements, rather than challenging the established socio-political order, in fact stabilize and further entrench its logic, this article argues that an adequate understanding of the populist phenomenon necessitates a radical shift of perspective: beyond the democratic and emancipatory norms, which still govern most of the relevant literature. Approaching its subject matter via democratic theory and modernization theory, it undertakes a reassessment of the triangular relationship between modernity, democracy and populism. It finds that the latter is not helpfully conceptualized as anti-modernist or anti-democratic but should, instead, be regarded as a predictable feature of the form of politics distinctive of today’s third modernity.
Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)
- 506014 Comparative politics
- 504001 General sociology
- 504 not use (legacy)