Volume 38, 2021

Thirty Years of ProtoSociology

Luis Roniger
Pages 229-243

Contesting Liberal Citizenship
The Populist Challenge

Political and social research on populism has discussed its development in the framework of modern constitutional democracies. Populism thrives as ‘parasitic’ to those democracies by addressing their unfulfilled promises. Citizens’ loss of trust in the system opens the way for varied forms of ‘populist ruptures’, facilitating the construction of the category of ‘the people’, through which leaders and their followings claim to stand for all citizens and embody the common will. This article analyzes how, both discursively and performatively, populism addresses major parameters and antinomies of Liberal democratic citizenship, e.g., by recalibrating representation and mass participation. Analysis indicates that by impacting the contours of collective identity as much as citizen expectations, entitlements and commitments, populism challenges the Liberal conceptions of citizenship that uphold modern constitutional democracies.