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Matteo Salvini protesting in Milan, Italy. July 2016. (Credit: tinx/Bigstockphoto.com) (via: bit.ly)

With reference to the growing success of right-wing populist movements and parties before and after the recent elections to the European Parliament, I approach the topic from a different perspective to the one currently dominant in public media. Any exclusive focus on the rhetoric, or the success of populist parties, I assert, is on the surface of a phenomenon that actually extends into the deep structures of society and socio-political life.

Accordingly, I take account of both the socio-economic and the cultural or identity factors at the root of the populist onslaught. It turns out that it is the combined effects of both these factors that are the breeding ground for feelings of anger, anxiety, and despair.

Overall, the phenomenon must be understood as resulting from two secular developments: globalisation – the unconstrained flow of services, of goods, and of people; and commodification – the market-induced restructuring of social and political relations. Turning to the most relevant literature in the fields of political economy and political sociology, I give a brief account of recent explanations and come up with a couple of policy recommendations on how to combat populism in the future.

The original German version published by the quarterly of the second-largest German labour union, the German Association of Public Servants (Deutscher Beamtenbund, DBB), can be found here (on pages 19-20) with a further link to the full paper.

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the original author(s) and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views and opinions of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, its co-founders, or its staff members.
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Jürgen Grote

Senior Researcher and Topic Leader (Policies, Institutions, and Strategies in Global Inclusive Development), DOC Research Institute, DE

Jürgen Grote is a senior researcher and topic leader (Inclusive Global Development: Strategies, Institutions and Progress) at the DOC Research Institute in Berlin.He has previously been a senior research fellow at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and coordinator of an international network on labour relations in context. He has held the Marie Curie Chair of Excellence in Public Policy at Charles University in Prague and has worked as an associate professor, lecturer, and research fellow at the MZES-Mannheim, the EUI-Florence, and at the Universities of Konstanz, Darmstadt, Potsdam, Jena, and Osnabrück. He has been a visiting scholar and visiting lecturer at the Universities of Montpellier, Lyon, Roskilde and at Bocconi University, Milan.In between, he has been engaged in policy consultancy on behalf of several regional governments, business interest associations, and labour unions in Italy. His main research interests include topics such as forms of organised collective action by both capital and labour, civil society and social movements, European integration, regional and structural policies, critical governance, and relational analysis.On these and on related topics, he has published and co-edited many articles and several books (Sage, Routledge, Palgrave Macmillan) the most recent one being: Social Movements and Organized Labour: Passions and Interests (co-edited with C. Wagemann) 2018; London: Routledge.