Towards a Fuller Political Economy of Radical Right and Left Nationalist Populism

Public Lecture on the political economy of nationalist populism

The lecture makes the case for a positional and contextualized understanding of the political economy of nationalist populism. Study of the origins of nationalist populist backlash in advanced democracies has identified a range of (often competing) explanations – from (various aspects and sources of) economic insecurities to socio-cultural worries and hatreds. But we have yet to fully identify possible economic culprits or understand how they conspire with or contradict one another or more cultural or political conditions. Brian Burgoon provides such identification and understanding by outlining two key moves to improve understanding of the political economy of populism. He first describes the features and origins of economic experiences most relevant to spurring radical backlash: positional deprivations that combine over time with between-group economic suffering and insecurity. He then shows how such positional economic suffering and other economic conditions not only affect populist backlash directly but also indirectly, by shaping and interacting with socio-cultural and political developments that are often assumed to be separate from economic experience.

Brian Burgoon is Professor of International and Comparative Political Economy at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). He also oversees all social science research as Academic Director of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) at the UvA. He received his PhD in political science from MIT in 1998, and held posts at SAIS Johns Hopkins before joining the UvA faculty since 2001. His research focuses on the politics of economic globalization; of welfare and labor-market policies and standards; and of how economic conditions influence political conflict.

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