Critical theory and demagogic populism

By Paul Jones

Critical theory and demagogic populism


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2343-5
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: November 2020
  • BIC Category: Political Theory, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy, POLITICAL SCIENCE / General, PHILOSOPHY / Movements / Critical Theory, Society & social sciences / Political science & theory, Society & social sciences / Political ideologies, Society & social sciences / Politics & government, Society & social sciences / Social theory
  • Series: Critical Theory and Contemporary Society


Populism is a powerful force in twenty-first-century politics, but it has proved remarkably resistant to the analytical tools of mainstream political science. This book provides a valuable alternative perspective, revisiting the work done by the Frankfurt School in the 1940s and comparing it with contemporary orthodox and unorthodox approaches. It reconstructs the Institute for Social Research's analysis of 'modern demagogy' in the USA within its Studies in Prejudice project of the 1940s, including its dialogue with Weber's work on charismatic leadership and the work of Freud. Modern demagogy emerges as a key feature of contemporary populism, with populist movements, whether 'left' or 'right', being highly susceptible to 'demagogic capture'. The book will be of interest to researchers and students in critical theory, sociology, politics, German studies and history of ideas, as well as to the great number of people concerned about the rise of demagogic populism today.


Part I: Critically theorising demagogic populism
1 Introduction: from orthodox 'populism studies' to critical theory
2 The Institute's analysis of 'modern demagogy'
3 Expanding the reach of the Institute's analysis
4 Gramscian analyses of fascism and populism: Poulantzas, Laclau, Hall
5 Towards a synthesis of critical perspectives

Part II: Populist contradictions of the culture industry
6 Cultural populisms and culture industry
7 Counter-demagogic popular art: towards a selective tradition
8 Structural transformations of demagogic populism

Appendix: Theodore Adorno, Introduction to Prophets of Deceit


Paul K. Jones is Reader in Sociology in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University

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