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The past twelve months has seen many unexpected developments in politics. Brexit and Trump, along with their corollary effects, have induced a wave of commentary and protest. Those previously uninterested and apathetic towards politics have become alive to the impact of their involvement.

But what should we think about ‘populism’? Is it something we should be afraid of? Is it inherently undemocratic? Or is it actually a correcting mechanism within democracy itself?

In a short article, the Cambridge PhD student Léonie de Jonge expands on some of her ideas relating to populism. She argues that overall, the term ‘populism’ has negative connotations, as it has historically been associated with “demagogy or political opportunism“. De Jonge notes, moreover, that populism has been theorised as a thin ideology that is usually attached to a thick political ideology such as socialism or nationalism. Keeping this theory in mind, is nationalism the main ideological platform through which populism has risen in recent years? 

Applicants for PPE, HSPS and History and Politics  should think about the long-term social implications for this rise in right-wing populist movements. Also notice the ‘discussion’ section of the Cambridge research website, which covers a lot of current academic research across a wide range of disciplines. For those of you who learn visually and aurally, as I do, there is a very good ‘Video and Audio’ sub-folder.

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