The rhetorical stance of populism

David Zarefsky, Dima Mohammed

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter is a contribution to the endeavor of clarifying populism by exploring populist rhetoric. The resurgence of populism is examined from a discursive perspective. From this perspective, populism may not so much be an ideology as a rhetorical stance that can be taken by advocates at different points on the ideological spectrum. Populist rhetoric emerges in a situation marked by seemingly uncontrollable change and the perceived loss of agency, by the fraying of bonds tying individuals to imagined communities, and by the superficial understanding of historical context. The rhetorical stance includes positing deep opposition between the ‘establishment’ and the ‘people’, the emotionalization of discourse, the democratization of evidence, the normalization of hyperbole, and a predilection for simple explanations for events.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVox Populi
Subtitle of host publicationPopulism as a Rhetorical and Democratic Challenge
EditorsIngeborg van der Geest, Henrike Jansen, Bart van Klink
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781789901412
ISBN (Print)9781789901405
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2020

Publication series

NameLaw 2020


  • Populism
  • Rhetoric


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