The Affects of Populism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The current rise of populism is often associated with affects. However, the exact relationship between populism and affects is unclear. This article addresses the question of what is distinctive about populist (appeals to) affects. It does so against the backdrop of a Laclauian conception of populism as a political logic that appeals to a morally laden frontier between two homogenous groups, ‘the people’ and ‘those in power’, in order to establish a new hegemonic order. I argue that it is distinctive of populism that it breaks with the dominating feeling rules by overtly appealing to affects and reclaiming them for the realm of the political. The article explores three groups of affective phenomena: discontent, anger, and fear; empathetic, sympathetic, group-based, and shared emotions; and collective passions of enthusiasm and love. It shows how an appeal to these affects relates to the political logic of populism itself by contributing to the concretization, collectivization, and unification of affects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284–302
JournalJournal of the American Philosophical Association
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Populism
  • Emotions
  • Passions
  • Collective Identity


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