A Cultural Sociology of Populism

Marcus Morgan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
124 Downloads (Pure)


This article interrogates dominant definitions of “populism” found in the social sciences, focusing on the term’s conceptual utility in understanding recent changes in Western polities. Though populism is typically treated as a deviant form of politics, this article finds that it in fact holds remarkable continuities with conventional politics, and indeed culture more generally. It argues that these more general cultural processes can be illuminated by cultural sociology, just as the more specific but still routine political processes can be illuminated by civil sphere theory (CST). The article goes on to argue that when populism is understood as a formal mode of public signification, rather than a substantive ideology, the substance it signifies becomes crucial to determining its civility. It suggests that while populism can certainly have anti-civil effects, there is nothing inherent in it that precludes it from also acting to promote civil repair.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 May 2020


  • cultural sociology
  • Civil Sphere
  • populism
  • neoliberalism
  • left populism
  • civil society
  • political sociology


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