Populism: The Concept and Its Definitions
  • Annie Benveniste
  • Giovanna Campani
  • Gabriella Lazaridis


The aim of this chapter is to look at populism as a concept and its historical evolution across Europe, acknowledging some of the limitations, most notably its extreme fragility and chameleon-like qualities. It discusses its usage and style (populist narrative). It concentrates by and large on right-wing populism and views populism as a narrative rather than a distinct ideology, a form of an argument that pits an in-group (us) against an out-group (them). It illustrates how the rest of the book is structured: providing examples from interview material carried out with populist political parties and groups in eight EU member states (Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Slovenia and the UK), we reveal a ranging of ‘othering’ discourses and practices that encompass both minority groups such as migrants, Muslims and the LGBT community, and the political elites (in some cases, anti-elitism was as strong a focus for populist narratives as ‘othering’ behaviours); in each chapter we look at their target groups and commitments to recruiting and/or influencing young people in particular, and raise questions about the capacity of young people to contextualise the kinds of populist arguments they many encounter online.

The introduction will show how timely and important is the topic addressed in this book: the (re-)emergence of rightist populism across Europe. Each country chapter contains original data in the form of face-to-face interviews with party activists and followers, and with focus groups from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), pro-migrant and pro-LGBT organisations, and explores their activities combating right-wing populist hate speech and crime. The strength and novelty of this book lies in its in-depth analysis of the rise of far-right populism, of the challenges it poses and of the way civil society and the state in different countries are developing ‘anti-bodies’ to combat this phenomenon.


European Union Political Party Hate Crime Hate Speech Populist Parti 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annie Benveniste
    • 1
  • Giovanna Campani
    • 2
  • Gabriella Lazaridis
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Educational ScienceUniversity of Paris VIIISaint-DenisFrance
  2. 2.Department of Education and PsychologyUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  3. 3.University of LeicesterLeicesterUK

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