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Fascism and Populism: Are They Useful Categories for Comparative Sociological Analysis?

Authors
  • Berezin, Mabel
Type
Published Article
Publisher
Annual Reviews
Publication Date
Jul 30, 2019
Volume
45
Pages
345–361
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1146/annurev-soc-073018-022351
Source
Annual Reviews
Keywords
License
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Abstract

Political developments in the United States and Europe have generated a resurgence in the use of the terms fascism and populism across multiple media. Fascism is a historically specific term that Benito Mussolini coined in Italy to define his regime. Over time, political analysts erased the historical specificity of fascism and deployed it as an analytic category. In contrast, populism is an analytic category that, depending on context, includes varying aggregates of popular preferences that often lack a coherent and unifying ideology. This review draws upon interdisciplinary scholarship and empirical cases to revisit the terms fascism and populism, focusing on institutionalized politics. Contemporary fascist and populist politics are increasingly global. This review argues that comparative political and historical sociologists need to develop an analytically cogent approach to researching this encroaching political phenomenon. The review suggests a research agenda that treats fascism and populism as more than conceptual categories.

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