Familiarity as a tool of populism : Political appropriation of shared experiences and the case of Suvivirsi

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Ylä-Anttila , T S S 2017 , ' Familiarity as a tool of populism : Political appropriation of shared experiences and the case of Suvivirsi ' , Acta Sociologica , vol. 60 , no. 4 , pp. 342-357 . https://doi.org/10.1177/0001699316679490

Title: Familiarity as a tool of populism : Political appropriation of shared experiences and the case of Suvivirsi
Author: Ylä-Anttila, Tuukka Salu Santeri
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Sociology
Date: 2017
Language: eng
Number of pages: 16
Belongs to series: Acta Sociologica
ISSN: 0001-6993
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/228243
Abstract: Populist argumentation claims to represent ‘the people’ against ‘the elite’, appealing to emotions and reacting to a sense of crisis. By analysing a public debate in Finland in which populist arguments appropriate a culturally shared, familiar experience – that of singing Suvivirsi, the Summer Hymn – I argue that evoking familiarity is an effective way of ‘doing populism’. Analysing media texts from 2002 to 2014 and a questionnaire to political candidates in 2011, and using Laurent The´venot’s sociology of engagements, the article shows that appeals to the familiarity of the hymn are particularly compatible with the populist valorization of the experience of the common people. Familiarity thus constitutes a central tool in the toolkit of populism. Remembering the shared experience of singing the hymn bonds the assumed ‘people’ together and gives an emotional charge to populist arguments. By drawing on pragmatist political sociology and analysing politics ‘in action’ in everyday disputes, the paper makes a novel contribution to the scholarship of populism.
Subject: 5141 Sociology
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