Advertisement

Quality & Quantity

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 1241–1263 | Cite as

Measuring populist discourse with semantic text analysis: an application on grassroots populist mobilization

Article

Abstract

Populism is a concept employed to qualify the political behavior of a large number of actors at a worldwide scale, with scientists classifying the latter into populists and non-populists according to dimensions such as ideology, strategy, discourse, economic policy, and even style. This article analyzes existing schools of thought on the nature of populism and argues that conceptualizing populism as a specific type of anti-elite discourse in the name of the People is both conceptually and methodologically the most coherent and useful way to understand the phenomenon. Additionally, it suggests discarding crude, dichotomous classification in favor of a gradated view of populist mobilization by means of quantifying populist discourse and observing its spatial and temporal variation. It adds value to current methods of measurement by demonstrating why and how clause-based semantic text analysis can provide optimal quantitative results while retaining qualitative elements for mixed-methods analysis. Aiming, moreover, at expanding the scope of populism studies by overcoming a narrow view that focuses exclusively at party system developments, it applies semantic text analysis to the study of grassroots mobilization during the Great Recession. Results point to the wide use of populist discourse on the part of movement activists seeking an inclusive language when framing disparate social grievances in a given constituency, a finding with important implications with regards to how populism can facilitate straddling the divide that purportedly distinguishes institutionalized party system behavior from the social movement milieu.

Keywords

Populism Discourse Text analysis Social movements Quantitative methods 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The author would like to thank Nikos Marantzidis and Hanspeter Kriesi for their guidance, the two anonymous reviewers of this journal for their constructive critique, and his team of coders for their patience and perseverance.

References

  1. Albertazzi, D., McDonnell, D.: Introduction: the sceptre and the spectre. In: Albertazzi, D., McDonnell, D. (eds.) Twenty-First Century Populism: The Spectre of Western European Democracy, pp. 1–14. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Armony, A.C., Armony, V.: Indictments, myths, and citizen mobilization in argentina: a discourse analysis. Lat. Am. Polit. Soc. 47(4), 27–54 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aslanidis, P.: Is populism an ideology? a refutation and a new perspective. Polit. Stud. 64(IS), 88–104 (2016a)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aslanidis, P.: Populist social movements of the great recession. Mobil. Int. Q. 21 (3), 301–321 (2016b)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bauer, M.W.: Classical content analysis: a review. In: Bauer, M.W., Gaskell, G. (eds.) Qualitative Researching with Text, Image and Sound, pp. 132–152. Sage, London (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bell, D.: What is liberalism? Polit. Theory 42(6), 682–715 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bernard, H.R., Ryan, G.W.: Analyzing Qualitative Data: Systematic Approaches. Sage, Thousand Oaks (2010)Google Scholar
  8. Bernhard, L., Kriesi, H., Weber, E.: The populist discourse of the swiss people’s party. In: Kriesi, H., Pappas, T.S. (eds.) European Populism in the Shadow of the Great Recession, pp. 123–138. ECPR Press, Colchester (2015)Google Scholar
  9. Bonikowski, B., Gidron, N.: The populist style in American politics: presidential Campaign discourse, 1952–1996. Soc. Forces 94(4), 1593–1621 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bruhn, K.: “To hell with your corrupt institutions!”: AMLO and populism in Mexico. In: Mudde, C., Kaltwasser, C.R. (eds.) Populism in Europe and the Americas: Threat or Corrective for Democracy?, pp. 88–112. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Budge, I., Klingemann, H.-D., Volkens, A., Bara, J., Tanenbaum, E.: Mapping Policy Preferences: Estimates for Parties, Electors, and Governments 1945–1998. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2001)Google Scholar
  12. Caiani, M., della Porta, D.: The elitist populism of the extreme right: a frame analysis of extreme right-wing discourses in Italy and Germany. Acta Polit. 46(2), 180–202 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Calhoun, C.: Occupy wall street in perspective. Br. J. Sociol. 64(1), 26–38 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Canovan, M.: Populism. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York (1981)Google Scholar
  15. Canovan, M.: The People. Polity Press, Cambridge (2005)Google Scholar
  16. Caramani, D.: Will vs. Reason: The Populist and Technocratic Forms of Political Representation and Their Critique to Party Government. Am. Polit. Sci. Rev. 111(1), 54–67 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Conniff, M.L. (ed.): Populism in Latin America, 2nd edn. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa (2012)Google Scholar
  18. Deegan-Krause, K., Haughton, T.: Toward a more useful conceptualization of populism: types and degrees of populist appeals in the case of Slovakia. Polit. Policy 37(4), 821–841 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. de la Torre, C.: Populist Seduction in Latin America: The Ecuadorian Experience. Ohio University Center for International Studies, Athens (2000)Google Scholar
  20. della Porta, D.: Social Movements in Times of Austerity. Polity Press, Cambridge (2015)Google Scholar
  21. della Porta, D., Mattoni, A. (eds.): Spreading Protest: Social Movements in Times of Crisis. ECPR Press, Colchester (2014)Google Scholar
  22. di Tella, T.: Populism into the twenty-first century. Gov. Oppos. 32, 187–200 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dornbusch, R., Edwards, S. (eds.): The Macroeconomics of Populism in Latin America. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago (1991)Google Scholar
  24. Formisano, R.P.: For the People: American Populist Movements from the Revolution to the 1850s. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill (2008)Google Scholar
  25. Formisano, R.P.: The Tea Party: A Brief History. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore (2012)Google Scholar
  26. Franzosi, R.: The return of the actor. Interaction Networks among social actors during periods of high mobilization (Italy, 1919–1922). Mobil. Int. Q. 4(2), 131–149 (1999)Google Scholar
  27. Franzosi, R.: From Words to Numbers: Narrative, Data, and Social Science. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2004)Google Scholar
  28. Franzosi, R.: Content Analysis. Sage, Thousand Oaks (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Franzosi, R.: Quantitative Narrative Analysis. Sage, Thousand Oaks (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Franzosi, R., De Fazio, G., Vicari, S.: Ways of measuring agency: an application of quantitative narrative analysis to lynchings in georgia (1875–1930). Sociol. Methodol. 42(1), 1–42 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gallie, W.B.: Essentially contested concepts. Proc. Aristot. Soc. 56, 167–198 (1956)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gamson, W.A.: Arab Spring, Israeli summer, and the process of cognitive liberation. Swiss Polit. Sci. Rev. 17(4), 463–468 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gerbaudo, P.: Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism. Pluto Press, London (2012)Google Scholar
  34. Gerring, J.: Ideology: a definitional analysis. Polit. Res. Q. 50(4), 957–994 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Grimmer, J., Stewart, B.M.: Text as data: the promise and pitfalls of automatic content analysis methods for political texts. Polit. Anal. 21(3), 267–297 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Harrison, S., Bruter, M.: Mapping Extreme Right Ideology: An Empirical Geography of the European Extreme Right. Palgrave Macmillan, New York (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hayes, A.F., Krippendorff, K.: Answering the call for a standard reliability measure for coding data. Commun. Methods Meas. 1(1), 77–89 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hawkins, K.A.: Is Chavez populist?: Measuring populist discourse in comparative perspective. Comp. Polit. Stud. 42(8), 1040–1067 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hawkins, K.A.: Venezuela’s Chavismo and Populism in Comparative Perspective. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Iglesias, P.: Understanding Podemos. New Left Rev. 93(May–June), 7–22 (2015)Google Scholar
  41. Ionescu, G., Gellner, E. (eds.): Populism: Its Meanings and National Characteristics. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London (1969)Google Scholar
  42. Jagers, J., Walgrave, S.: Populism as political communication style: an empirical study of political parties’ discourse in Belgium. Eur. J. Polit. Res. 46(3), 319–345 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Jansen, R.S.: Populist mobilization: a new theoretical approach to populism. Sociol. Theory 29(2), 75–96 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Johnston, H., Alimi, E.Y.: A methodology analyzing for frame dynamics: the grammar of keying battles in palestinian nationalism. Mobil. Int. Q. 18(4), 453–474 (2013)Google Scholar
  45. Johnston, H., Oliver, P.E.: Breaking the frame. Mobil. Int. Q. 5(1), 61–64 (2000)Google Scholar
  46. Kazin, M.: The Populist Persuasion: An American History. Cornell University Press, Ithaca (1995)Google Scholar
  47. Kriesi, H., Pappas, T.S. (eds.): European Populism in the Shadow of the Great Recession. ECPR Press, Colchester (2015)Google Scholar
  48. Krippendorff, K.: Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology, 2nd edn. Sage, Thousand Oaks (2004)Google Scholar
  49. Kumar, A.: The Making of a Small State: Populist Social Mobilisation and the Hindi Press in the Uttarakhand Movement. Orient Blackswan, New Delhi (2011)Google Scholar
  50. Laclau, E.: Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory: Capitalism–Fascism–Populism. LNB, London (1977)Google Scholar
  51. Laclau, E.: On Populist Reason. Verso, London (2005)Google Scholar
  52. Mair, P.: Populist democracy vs party democracy. In: Meny, Y., Surel, Y. (eds.) Democracies and the Populist Challenge, pp. 81–98. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. March, L.: Towards an understanding of contemporary left-wing populism. In: Political Studies Association (PSA) Annual International Conference, Belfast, 3–5 April 2012Google Scholar
  54. Moffitt, B.: The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style, and Representation. Stanford University Press, Stanford (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Moffitt, B., Tormey, S.: Rethinking populism: politics, mediatisation and political style. Polit. Stud. 62(2), 381–397 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Mudde, C.: The populist zeitgeist. Gov. Oppos. 39(4), 542–563 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Mudde, C.: Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Müller, J.-W.: What Is Populism?. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Munck, G.L., Verkuilen, J.: Conceptualizing and measuring democracy: evaluating alternative indices. Comp. Polit. Stud. 35(1), 5–34 (2002)Google Scholar
  60. Neuendorf, K.A.: The Content Analysis Guidebook. Sage, Thousand Oaks (2002)Google Scholar
  61. Oliver, J.E., Rahn, W.M.: Rise of the Trumpenvolk: populism in the 2016 election. Ann. Am. Acad. Polit. Soc. Sci. 667(1), 189–206 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Panizza, F.: Introduction: populism and the mirror of democracy. In: Panizza, F. (ed.) Populism and the Mirror of Democracy, pp. 1–31. Verso, London (2005)Google Scholar
  63. Pappas, T.S.: The specter haunting Europe: distinguishing liberal democracy’s challengers. J. Democr. 27(4), 22–36 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Pauwels, T.: Measuring populism: a quantitative text analysis of party literature in Belgium. J. Elect. Public Opin. Parties 21(1), 97–119 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Pauwels, T.: Populism in Western Europe: Comparing Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Routledge, Oxon (2014)Google Scholar
  66. Pfaff, S.: Exit-Voice Dynamics and the Collapse of East Germany: The Crisis of Leninism and the Revolution of 1989. Duke University Press, Durham (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Philip, G., Panizza, F.: The Triumph of Politics: The Return of the Left in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Polity Press, Cambridge (2011)Google Scholar
  68. Popping, R.: Ag09: a computer program for interrater agreement for judgments. Soc. Sci. Comput. Rev. 28(3), 391–396 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Popping, R., Roberts, C.W.: Semantic text analysis and the measurement of ideological developments within fledgling democracies. Soc. Sci. Inf. 54(1), 23–37 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Reungoat, E.: Anti-EU parties and the people: an analysis of populism in french euromanifestos. Perspect. Eur. Polit. Soc. 11(3), 292–312 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Roberts, C.W.: A generic semantic grammar for quantitative text analysis: applications to East and West Berlin radio news content from 1979. Sociol. Methodol. 27(1), 89–129 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Roberts, C.W., Zuell, C., Landmann, J., Wang, Y.: Modality analysis: a semantic grammar for imputations of intentionality in texts. Qual. Quant. 44(2), 239–257 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Roberts, K.M.: Neoliberalism and the transformation of populism in Latin America: the peruvian case. World Polit. 48(1), 82–116 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Rooduijn, M.: The mesmerising message: the diffusion of populism in public debates in Western European media. Polit. Stud. 62(4), 726–744 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Rooduijn, M., Pauwels, T.: Measuring populism: comparing two methods of content analysis. West Eur. Polit. 34(6), 1272–1283 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Rooduijn, M., de Lange, S.L., van der Brug, W.: A populist Zeitgeist? Programmatic contagion by populist parties in Western Europe. Party Polit. 20(4), 563–575 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Ruzza, C., Fella, S.: Populism and the Italian right. Acta Polit. 46(2), 158–179 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Shapiro, G., Markoff, J.: Revolutionary Demands: A Content Analysis of the Cahiers de Doléances of 1789. Stanford University Press, Stanford (1998)Google Scholar
  79. Snow, D.A., Benford, R.D.: Ideology, frame resonance, and participant mobilization. Int. Soc. Mov. Res. 1(1), 197–217 (1988)Google Scholar
  80. Stenner, K.: The Authoritarian Dynamic. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Urbinati, N.: Democracy Disfigured: Opinion, Truth, and the People. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Van Dyke, N., Meyer, D.S. (eds.): Understanding the Tea Party Movement. Ashgate, Farnham (2014)Google Scholar
  83. Vasilopoulou, S., Halikiopoulou, D., Exadaktylos, T.: Greece in crisis: austerity, populism and the politics of blame. J. Common Mark. Stud. 52(2), 388–402 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Walton, J., Seddon, D.: Free Markets & Food Riots: the Politics of Global Adjustment. Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Weyland, K.: Clarifying a contested concept: populism in the study of Latin American politics. Comp. Polit. 34(1), 1–22 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science and Hellenic Studies ProgramYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations