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Thrown around with abandon? Popular understandings of populism as conveyed by the print media: A UK case study

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This article examines the use of the term ‘populism’ in the UK print media and compares this with the scholarly usage. It assesses whether there is truth in the claim that the media uses the term too freely and imprecisely. Our finding indicate that populism is used for a wide range of seemingly unrelated actors across the world, that it is hard to find any logic in the set of policies that are associated with the term, and that populism is, more or less explicitly, regularly used in a pejorative way. Despite these findings, we refrain from labelling populism a useless term. We will, however, indicate that the inconsistent vernacular use of the term complicates a meaningful academic debate about the concept.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Politics and Contemporary European Studies, Friston 245, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9SP, UK. s: ; [email protected], Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2011-04-01

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