Articulations of Populism : the Nordic Case

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Herkman , J 2017 , ' Articulations of Populism : the Nordic Case ' , Cultural Studies , vol. 31 , no. 4 , pp. 470-488 .

Title: Articulations of Populism : the Nordic Case
Author: Herkman, Juha
Other contributor: University of Helsinki, Department of Social Research (2010-2017)

Date: 2017
Language: eng
Number of pages: 19
Belongs to series: Cultural Studies
ISSN: 0950-2386
Abstract: Populism as a concept is elusive and has been connected to very different political movements. Generally, populism's connotations are rather negative and the term is often used pejoratively in the academic field as well. However, Ernesto Laclau has approached populism by arguing that populist reason is a manifestation of political logic in which group identification formed through various signifiers such as 'the people', which are articulated as part of an 'equivalence chain' - eventually establishes political agency as a totality. This paper uses Laclau's articulation theory to analyse the public construction of contemporary populism in the Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark. The analysis demonstrates that mainstream media frame populism rather negatively, although examples of the term's positive identification with 'the people' are available, especially in the tabloid media. Thus, the positive identification behind the forming of populist movements clashes with the media discourse that prioritizes established journalistic views, practices and sources, making populism a 'floating signifier', that is, a concept that has several meanings which are contested in various public discourses. A general pattern in the construction of populism in Northern European multi-party democracies can be discerned, thus identifying the central role of nationalist and nativist identifications in contingent populist articulations. However, the differences between the Nordic countries emphasize a context-driven approach.
Subject: Populism
articulation theory
Nordic countries
floating signifier
radical contextualism
5141 Sociology
518 Media and communications

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