When long lost siblings reunite: populism, conservatism and the discontents of progress

Chryssogelos, Angelos (2024) When long lost siblings reunite: populism, conservatism and the discontents of progress. Journal of Political Ideologies. pp. 1-20. ISSN 1356-9317


Although in recent years populism has emerged from within mainstream conservative parties around the world, populism and conservatism are still rarely studied together. Connecting them may appear paradoxical, given their opposing ideational content, as populism mobilizes the people against the elites while conservatism defends established hierarchies and traditions. This article argues however that we can identify many more similarities and overlaps between populism and conservatism if we adopt a broader conceptualization of political ideologies that includes not only their ideational content, but also their discursive, strategic, organizational and structural dimensions. On this basis, the article views populism and conservatism as modes of politics that mobilize followers primarily on the basis of idealized visions of the political community and state-society relations. Although populism puts forth an antagonistic vision of these relations and conservatism a deferential one, both are otherwise quite similar as strategies aimed at defining the boundaries and character of the political community on the basis of its relationship with political authority. The article conducts an empirical probe demonstrating how its theoretical argument can be applied in comparative research.

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