The Threat of Populism

Tuesday, Jan 07, 2020

1:30pm - 3:30pm

Lecture by:
James Skidmore

In its most basic form, populism is about the people of a nation demanding a voice in their political and social affairs. So why is populism a threat to democracy? This lecture will identify and discuss some of the key features of populism: the “us versus them” mentality; populism’s conflict with elitism; how mass dissatisfaction can give rise to mass political movements; the differences between left-wing and right-wing populism; the role of leadership in populism; and the difficulties scholars have defining populism (and the reasons for that). This lecture, by taking a look at the different theories informing populism and the debates about what populism actually is, will equip learners with a framework for contextualizing subsequent lectures on particular instances of populism in different countries and societies.

About The Lecturer

James Skidmore

James Skidmore is Director of the Waterloo Centre for German Studies at the University of Waterloo. After receiving his PhD from Princeton University, Prof. Skidmore taught at the University of New Brunswick and Wilfrid Laurier University before joining the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies at Waterloo. His research and teaching interests centre on the representation of political and social issues in literature and film. In addition to his work in German studies, Prof. Skidmore has been active in the fields of online and open education.