Populism and the Failures of Representation

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Suzanne Berger Massachusetts Institute of Technology szberger@mit.edu

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Looking back at extreme-right politics in France in the 1940s and 1950s provides new perspectives on contemporary populism. Stanley Hoffmann’s analyses of support for the Vichy regime and for the Poujade movement emphasized how populist politics flourished in times when major segments of the population felt thwarted in efforts to have their interests and views represented in government. Attempts to explain populism by the economic or cultural characteristics of individuals are insufficient. As Hoffmann suggested, it is the political failure of parties and interest groups to channel the grievances and demands of the “losers” of globalization into policy arenas that fuels the rise of populism today.

Contributor Notes

Suzanne Berger is Raphael Dorman-Helen Starbuck Professor of Political Science at MIT. She is the author of books and articles—from her first, on French peasants (Peasants Against Politics) to studies of globalization, outsourcing, and offshoring: How We Compete (2006) and Making in America: From Innovation to Market (2013). She wrote a study of globalization before World War I: Notre Première Mondialisation, awarded the Prix européen du livre d’économie in 2004. She has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The French government has awarded her the Légion d’honneur, Palmes académiques and l’Ordre national du mérite. E-mail: szberger@mit.edu

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