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Cas Mudde ✊ @CasMudde
, 14 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
I still see so many people arguing that #populism "lacks a clear definition" and "is used for everyone you don't like". The first is no longer true, the second is unrelated to the first. #Thread
1. It is true that until beginning of 21st century #populism was truly an "essentially contested concept" (Gallie).
2. Scholars not only disagreed about its exact meaning, they disagreed about its essence (genius): movement, style, ideology, cross-class coalition, economic program, etc.
3. Today most scholars who work on populism agree upon an ideological approach, i.e. defining populism as a set of ideas, whether merely expressed as discourse or style or constituting a (thin) ideology.
4. Major division within this broad group would be between Laclauans (notably Chantal Mouffe) and non-Laclauans (including me, Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, Jan Werner Mueller). They largely share an understanding of right-wing populism and its threat to liberal democracy.
5. Laclauans and non-Laclauans probably mostly disagree on idea that "bad" (right-wing) populism should be fought with "good" (left-wing populism). In part, I disagree because I think their "left-wing populism" isn't populism.
6. Laclauans are also more concerned about anti-populism, which is less recognized by non-Laclauans (although CRK and I have written about it).
7. Non-Laclauans are more diverse group, including more normative scholars (like Mueller and me) and an ever growing group of positivist, "neutral" or "objective" scholars.
8. What (almost) all non-Laclauans who work with ideational approach agree on is that populism is inherently in opposition to liberal democracy. They disagree whether it can be both positive and negative or whether it is mainly/only negative.
9. Overall, these disagreements are perfectly standard within social sciences and level of agreement and disagreement on what populism is, is not bigger than over most other key concepts in social science, such as conservatism, democracy, socialism.
10. Similarly, misuse of term populism is not much different from misuse of terms like conservatism, democracy or socialism. And yet, few people argue we should abolish those terms or that they are beyond a consensus.
11. And the fact that people (mainly, not exclusively, non-scholars) misuse a certain term, does not mean that the term is not clearly defined. That's why it is MISuse!
12. There is much wrong with the debate on populism, as well as the scholarship of populism, and there will be even more wrong (and good) about it in the coming decade, as it is mainstreamed. But it is not (much) worse than other key terms and subfields.
13. It's time to move beyond cliché "populism cannot be defined" or "populism lacks a clear definition" or "there is no consensus on definition of populism" and treat concept same as others: imperfect, limited, but useful within certain boundaries and rules. #TheEnd
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