on December 14, 2021
Published on February 14, 2022 Updated on February 24, 2022

Guest Lecture: David Copello

photo Copello
photo Copello

Doing things with « populism »: Essentially-contested political concepts and the sociology of ideas

David Copello is Post-doctoral researcher, AGORA - CY Cergy Paris Université and Associate researcher at IHEAL-CREDA.

“Populism” has become one of the most common political concepts to describe contemporary dynamics of (and threats to) Western democracies. There is however no general scientific agreement as to what populism actually is. In this lecture, I will contend that, instead of looking desperately for the ultimate definition of this phenomenon, social scientists should study how “populism-talk” is structured and what it does to the social understandings of political cleavages. In other words, I will defend an approach of “populism” based on a sociology of ideas research agenda.

The presentation will be divided into four sections. I will first give a short presentation of the main existing conceptions of “populism” in the social sciences [1]. I will then explain why it can be considered an essentially-contested concept, and how research could do things with “populism” instead of looking for its true nature [2]. I will then present two potential applications of this research perspective: a study of partisan appropriations of the concept of “populism” in contemporary left-wing organizations [3] and an investigation of ordinary understandings of “populism” among rank-and-file activists [4].

Day: 14 December 2021 from 12:30 to 14:00

The hybrid guest lecture is organised in person at the Auditorium of MIR in Neuville-sur-Oise and remotely on Zoom.

The video is online on the CY AS YouTube channel