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The Political Economy of Populism Workshop

Event date
Friday, 10 September, 2021
Event time
08:30 to 12:30
Event place
Event Type
Online Event
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Since the Brexit vote and the victory of Donald Trump in 2016, social scientists have tended to focus on the causes and consequences of political populism. Largely absent from the existing literature is a study of economic populism, which can be defined not only as specific policy ideas that reject the prevailing orthodoxy of economic policymaking but also as a reaction to the perception, and reality, of powerlessness – a lack of agency and participation in decisions about wealth and power.

A special Issue of the National Institute Economic Review to be published in Spring 2022 will be devoted to this theme, co-edited by Prof Sayantan Ghosal (University of Glasgow) and Prof Adrian Pabst (NIESR and University of Kent). At this workshop we will present early drafts of the papers.

It will focus on two sets of questions.

  1. First, the papers will challenge in different ways the dichotomy between economic and socio-cultural drivers in favour of an overarching approach that starts from the recognition of interdependencies. Some of the presentations will explore the complementarities in the various explanations of economic populism – combining the economy, culture, geography, demography and social class.
  2. Second, the papers will make a distinctive contribution to the existing literature by analysing when populism can drive positive economic change (e.g. Bismarck’s reforms, the Great Reform Act, the New Deal and possibly QE after the 2008 financial crash) and when it leads to negative outcomes. Based on specific cases (e.g. post-WWII and post-financial crisis), we will provide a better understanding of the causes of economic populism and develop new public policy proposals – with a focus on questions of work, wealth distribution and ‘economic democracy’

A draft programme for the event is available for download.



United Kingdom


Online Event