The Populist Conjuncture: Legitimation Crisis in the Age of Globalized Capitalism

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This article argues that the theory of legitimation crisis developed by Offe and Habermas offers an instructive theoretical framework for explaining the current surge of populism across the West. The article argues that this populist resurgence is indicative of a profound legitimation crisis of the Western welfare state, which ultimately derives from its inability to control a globalized economic system. The article argues that two prominent rival accounts of the populist resurgence both suffer from their inattention to the specific ideational content of populism, as a reaction to a form of elite political rule experienced as illegitimate. By contrast, the advantage of the theory of legitimation crisis is that it is able to directly account for the structural conditions of the present legitimation crisis. Finally, the article offers an integrative account of why populism tends to focus on immigration in Northern Europe and on economic issues in Southern Europe.
Translated title of the contributionDet Populistiske Øjeblik: Legitimationskrise i Globaliseringens Tidsalder
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)795–811
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - legitimation crisis, populism, welfare state capitalism, Jürgen Habermas, globalization

ID: 208695606