Pages: 208
Subject: Politics
Series: Beginner's Guides
Imprint: Oneworld


A Beginner's Guide

Simon Tormey

The essential guide to understanding what populism is, why it's flourishing and what we should do about it
9781786076137 (4 Jul 2019)
RRP £9.99 / US$14.95

The Book

It is widely regarded as one of the greatest threats of our time. Since Brexit and Trump there have been countless news items detailing the populist explosion and how it jeopardises our democracies. But the full story is more complicated than that. To understand the political divisions and crises of today, we must get to grips with the contested concept of populism.

Beginning with the earliest recorded cases, Simon Tormey breaks down the defining aspects of populism, what sets it apart from other styles of politics, and asks whether there are meaningful differences between populisms of the left and right. He draws together political theory and contemporary case studies from around the world to form a defining picture of the populist ‘moment' in which we are living. The result is a critical yet highly readable introduction to this often misunderstood phenomenon.

Additional Information

Subject Politics
Series Beginner's Guides
Pages 208
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Simon Tormey is Professor and Head of the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney. Born in Dublin, he lived and worked in England for many years before moving to Australia. The author of many books and articles on contemporary politics, he regularly appears in broadcast and print media commenting on British and European politics.


‘While we all think we know what populism means, if we dig a little deeper we find ourselves lost in definitional problems and ambiguities… Tormey navigates through these…with admirable clarity and perception, drawing upon historical and contemporary examples of populist movements, and exploring key factors that explain their rise.'

- Saul Newman, Professor of Political Philosophy, Flinders University

‘The world is changing. Democracy is under threat. Simon Tormey's Populism: A Beginner's Guide provides a wonderfully sophisticated yet beautifully accessible guide to these changing times.'

- Matthew Flinders, Professor of Politics, University of Sheffield, and President of the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom

‘This clearly-written, astute, and accessible volume presents populism as a potentially democratic response to the growing dissatisfaction with establishment party politics. Refuting an influential and widespread tendency to conflate populism with authoritarianism, Tormey demonstrates that populism is neither an ideology nor a programme, but a form of politics that speaks to the people, in the people's name, to mobilise popular support for projects of political transformation. An important dissenting voice in today's chorus of populist critics, Tormey casts populism in a new light, inviting readers to consider whether it might not be a threat to democracy but rather something democracy needs for its renewal.'

- Lisa Disch, Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan

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