Fall 2018

Populism in the Era of Global Capitalism

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-321


Amrita Basu (Section 01)
Pavel Machala (Section 01)


For over a generation now, populist social movements and political parties have resisted globalization. During the ascendance of globalization (1980s–2000s), leftist populism took the lead in mobilizing opposition to globalization, not only by marginalized groups but also by the general public. In the current period, however, the rise of powerful strains of right-wing populism have begun to take over these struggles. We will examine why this has happened as well as explore why far right movements that were once marginal political forces have begun to successfully challenge leftist and even centrist political parties to form influential new populist parties. 

We will analyze how in representative democracies across the world, trust in public institutions and established political parties has all but collapsed because of the inability or disinclination of governing elites to address popular anxieties and societal demands concerning inequality, immigration, globalization and the upheaval in labor markets.

Related themes to be addressed include the relationship between right and left wing populism and representative democracy, the ideological, organizational, and policy differences between right wing and left wing populism, the relationship between populist moments and populist parties (which comes first?), the transnational dimensions of populism as well as populism’s impact on the dynamics of world politics. 

We will also explore the class, ethnic and gender composition of populist movements and the role charismatic leadership plays in populist movements and parties. Although our inquiry into the character, strength and weaknesses of populism in this era of crisis in global capitalism will primarily be theoretical and conceptual, empirical illustrations will include, but not be limited to, India and the United States.

Limited to 25 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Professors Basu and Machala.

If Overenrolled: Priority given to Political Science majors.


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2018