Popularism vs. Populism

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Popularism and Populism is that the Popularism is a political ideology and Populism is a political orientation or standpoint.

  • Popularism

    Popolarismo (popularism) is a political doctrine conceived by Don Luigi Sturzo which was the ideological basis for the Italian People’s Party and later Christian Democracy. It is a Christian democratic and centrist school of thought distinct from the Christian left and from more socially conservative currents in Christian democracy.

    The French Popular Democratic Party formed in 1924 was ideologically inspired by the popularism of Sturzo and his Italian People’s Party.Within Christian democracy, the use of the name People’s Party is widespread, so that European Christian democrats decided to name European People’s Party their party in 1976. “Popular” or “people’s” in this context consists of two meanings. The first is the idea that the Christian democratic parties should try to work towards a policy that is for the good of all the members of society as opposed to parties that promote the good of a specific group (i.e. class). The second refers to a society where the people live in a kind of harmony and where people and groups are interested in and care about each other.

  • Populism

    In politics, populism refers to a range of approaches which emphasise the role of “the people” and often juxtapose this group against “the elite”. There is no single definition of the term, which developed in the 19th century and has been used to mean various different things since that time. Few politicians or political groups describe themselves as “populists”, and in political discourse the term is often applied to others pejoratively. Within political science and other social sciences, various different definitions of populism have been used, although some scholars propose rejecting the term altogether.

    A common framework for interpreting populism is known as the ideational approach: this defines populism as an ideology which posits “the people” as a morally good force against “the elite”, who are perceived as corrupt. Populists differ in how “the people” are defined, but it can be based along class, ethnic, or national lines. Populists typically present “the elite” as comprising the political, economic, cultural, and media establishment, all of which are depicted as a homogenous entity and accused of placing the interests of other groups—such as foreign countries or immigrants—above the interests of “the people”. According to this approach, populism is a thin-ideology which is combined with other, more substantial thick ideologies such as nationalism, liberalism, or socialism. Thus, populists can be found at different locations along the left–right political spectrum and there is both left-wing populism and right-wing populism.

    Other scholars active in the social sciences have defined the term populism in different ways. According to the popular agency definition used by some historians of United States history, populism refers to popular engagement of the population in political decision making. An approach associated with the scholar Ernesto Laclau presents populism as an emancipatory social force through which marginalised groups challenge dominant power structures. Some economists have used the term in reference to governments which engage in substantial public spending financed by foreign loans, resulting in hyperinflation and emergency measures. In popular discourse, the term has sometimes been used synonymously with demagogy, to describe politicians who present overly simplistic answers to complex questions in a highly emotional manner, or with opportunism, to characterise politicians who seek to please voters without rational consideration as to the best course of action.

    The term populism came into use in the late 19th century alongside the promotion of democracy. In the United States, it was closely associated with the People’s Party, while in the Russian Empire it was linked to the agrarian socialist Narodnik movement. During the 20th century, various parties emerged in liberal democracies that were described as populist. In the 21st century, the term became increasingly popular, used in reference largely to left-wing groups in the Latin American pink tide, right-wing groups in Europe, and both right and leftist groups in the US. In 2017 ‘populism’ has been chosen as the Cambridge Dictionary Word of the Year.

  • Popularism (noun)

    Any political doctrine chosen to appeal to a majority of the electorate.

  • Populism (noun)

    A political doctrine or philosophy that proposes that the rights and powers of ordinary people are exploited by a privileged elite, and supports their struggle to overcome this.

  • Populism (noun)

    The practice of appealing to the interests of the common people.

  • Populism (noun)

    a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups

    “the question is whether he will tone down his fiery populism now that he has joined the political establishment”

    “the Finance Minister performed a commendable balancing act, combining populism with prudence”

  • Populism (noun)

    support for populist politicians or policies

    “the government came to power on a wave of populism”

  • Populism (noun)

    the quality of appealing to or being aimed at ordinary people

    “art museums did not gain bigger audiences through a new populism”

Oxford Dictionary

Leave a Comment