Populism from the perspective of political philosophy

Current issues of modern political philosophy and ethno-national studies


  • Svitlana Shcherbak




populism, democracy, liberalism, ideology, discourse


The article is devoted to populism as a political phenomenon and as an object of analysis in po- litical theory. The focus is on the debate around the definition of populism. The article reviews various approaches to the study of populism, particularly ideological and discursive approaches. The author also analyses populism from the point of view of the normative theory of democracy and discusses the issue whether populism is a threat to liberal democracy or a correction of it. The problem of defining ‘the people’, a key populist concept, is considered separately, and it is concluded that nationalist and populist discourses essentially intersect, so it is impossible to separate them completely.

The article argues for a discursive approach to populism. Populism’s primary feature is a claim to speak in the name of the people. Populism is an element of the representative demo- cracy and represents both its constant potential and a menace to it. Populism also appeals to the claim for democratic legitimacy that is a basic normative demand in modern societies. It is logi- cal to consider populism not as the essential characteristic of a political actor (party, movement, leader) who is or is not a populistic but as the aggregation of the populist repertoire, a combina- tion of its elements and their orientation.

Author Biography

Svitlana Shcherbak

Department of Social Philosophy, H.S. Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy, NAS of Ukraine


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How to Cite

Shcherbak, S. (2020). Populism from the perspective of political philosophy: Current issues of modern political philosophy and ethno-national studies. Filosofska Dumka, (3), 61–78. https://doi.org/10.15407/fd2020.03.061






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