Populism and Democracy

Présentation de cours du programme universitaire


  • Professeur: Steven M. Van Hauwaert
  • Session: juillet
  • Langue d'enseignement: anglais
  • Nombre d'heures de cours: 36

Télécharger la présentation 2021 du cours "Populism and Democracy in Comparative Perspective" (PDF, EN, 432 Ko).

Objective of the Course

The main objective of this course is to explore the phenomenon of populism, by considering its meaning, causes and effects in a systematic and comparative way. Students will not only learn an increasingly consensual conceptual approach to analyse populism, but will also be introduced to an extensive conceptual debate. They will explore historical and current populist forces, their characteristics, causes and consequences, as well as the often-ambivalent relationship between populism and democracy. Students will also gain knowledge about how to deal with this phenomenon, something that is becoming more and more relevant across the world.


Populism has become a widely debated and well-researched theme. The term is often ill-defined and used in a pejorative manner, contributing to misconceptions and inaccurate interpretations of what is populism and, more importantly, what it is not. The course will introduce students to an extensive conceptual, theoretical and empirical scholarship on populism. This will provide participants with a more precise understanding of the concept and allow for consideration of the various ways we can examine populism. Building on this, the course discusses instances of populism in various contexts and reflects on the ambivalent relationship between populism and democracy. Throughout this discussion, the course explicitly takes a comparative approach and relies both on quantitative and qualitative analyses in support of its discussions. Special attention will be paid to the core features of populism, such as anti-elitism and popular sovereignty, as well as its causes and consequences for democratic functioning. Altogether, this course will provide an introduction to populism in theory and practice, employing an increasingly consensual approach to populism that permits to study its ambivalent relationship with democracy.

Organization of the Course

The course will address the following main issues:

  1. Concepts of populism (assessment of definitions and presentation of populism as a set of ideas).
  2. Overview of populist forces in Europe, Latin America, and the United States.
  3. Characteristics of populist forces (e.g. organization, leadership, gender).
  4. The ambivalent relationship between populism and democracy.
  5. Causes and responses (e.g. theories of populist mobilization, and national and international responses to the rise of populist forces).

Professor Biography

Steven M. Van Hauwaert is currently an Assistant Professor (Lecturer) in Comparative Politics at the University of Surrey. He has previously held positions as a Humboldt Fellow at the Johannes Gutenberg Universitat Mainz, a Visiting Professor at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), an FSR Fellow at the Université Catholique de Louvain, an NU Fellow at Northwestern University, an Adjunct Lecturer (ATER) and Research Fellow at Sciences Po Paris, a Visiting Researcher and Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and a Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher at the University of Vienna.

Van Hauwaert is the principal investigator of the Global Public Opinions Project and a team leader for Team Populism. His academic contributions have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Acta Politica, Comparative European Politics, Electoral Studies, European Journal of Political Research, European Political Science Review, European Societies, Journal of European Integration, Politics, West European Politics, and a number of edited volumes. Since 2018, he is also an associate editor for the ECPR journal Political Research Exchange.

Retour en haut de page