Critical Perspectives on Populism

This roundtable organised by the Leeds Centre for Democratic Engagement will examine the concept of populism and its proliferation in academic and popular discourse.


Bice Maiguashca (University of Exeter)
Jason Glynos (University of Essex)
Chaired by Jonathan Dean (University of Leeds)


There is an overwhelming consensus – in both academic research and wider public debate – that we are living in a “populist moment”. In a short period of time, populism, it seems, has gone from being a rather niche subfield of political analysis to becoming the central political question of our times. This roundtable casts a critical eye towards this sudden and dramatic proliferation of discussion about populism. Rather than asking what populism is and how we can make sense of it, we intend to take a step back and probe both the concept of populism, and its sudden proliferation in academic and popular discourse. Consequently, our discussion will explore questions such as:

  • What are the key strengths and limits of “populism” as an explanatory category?
  • How can we make sense of the dominance of “populism” within contemporary academic and political discourse?
  • What are the effects and consequences of populism’s ubiquity as an object of discussion and debate?
  • What kinds of silences and exclusions (for instance in relation to race and gender) do discussions of populism bring about?
  • What alternative frameworks and concepts – if any – might rival “populism” as tools for making sense of our present moment?


This event is open to all and there is no need to book. If you have any enquiries, please contact Tanisa (School Support Officer - Events) at