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.
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