The Populist CenturyHistory, Theory, Critique
The Populist Century
History, Theory, Critique
Translated by Catherine Porter

Populism is an expression of anger; its appeal stems from being presented as the solution to disorder in our times. The vision of democracy, society, and the economy it offers is coherent and attractive.

At a time when the words and slogans of the left have lost much of their power to inspire, Pierre Rosanvallon takes populism for what it is: the rising ideology of the twenty-first century. In <i>The Populist Century</i> he develops a rigorous theoretical account of populism, distinguishing five key features that make up populist political culture; he retraces its history in modern democracies from the mid-nineteenth century to the present; and he offers a well-reasoned critique of populism, outlining a robust democratic alternative.

This wide-ranging and insightful account of the theory and practice of populism will be of great interest to students and scholars in politics and the social sciences and to anyone concerned with the key political questions of our time.

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  • November 2021
  • 220 pages
  • 152 x 229 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9781509546282
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Table of Contents
Introduction: Conceptualizing populism

I. Anatomy

1. A Conception of “The People”: The People as One Body

2. A Theory of Democracy: Direct, Polarized, Immediate

3. A Mode of Representation: A Leader Embodying the People

4. A Politics and a Philosophy of Economics: National Protectionism

5. A Regime of Passions and Emotions

6. The Unity and Diversity of Populisms

II. History

1. History of Populist Moments (I): Caesarism and Illiberal Democracy in France

2. History of Populist Moments (II): The Years 1890-1914

3. History of Populist Moments (III): The Latin American Laboratory

4. Conceptual History: Populism as a Democratic Form

III. Critique

1. Introduction

2. Polarized Democracy vs. Pluralized Democracy

3. From an Imaginary People to a Constructable Democratic Society

4. The Horizon of Democratorship: The Issue of Irreversibility

Conclusion: The Spirit of an Alternative

Annex: History of the word “populism”

Works Cited


About the Author
Pierre Rosanvallon is Professor at the Collège de France and the author of many books on political theory and democracy, including Good Government, The Society of Equals and Counter-Democracy.
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“This is not just a book about populism, important though that is, but contains vital reflections on the nature of democracy. Rosanvallon views democracy as a permanent exploration, to be developed through multiple procedures and institutions – the opposite of the way it is understood by populism, which dangerously sees democracy as the politicization of all institutions under the centralized control of a leader.”
Colin Crouch, Emeritus Professor at the University of Warwick

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