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The Political Economy of Left-Wing Populism - social relations and the economic imaginary of Podemos

König, Jacob LU (2017) SOCM04 20171
Sociology
Abstract
Populism has become a political catchphrase across the world, spanning across the entire political spectrum in various forms. In Spain, the left-wing populist party Podemos is the most significant case, adopting a post-marxist perspective less focused on the economy than orthodox marxism. In light of this, this thesis examines their main economic program through use of Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis, in order to investigate their understanding of the economy and its social relations. The theoretical framework used is a Marxist and Polanyian understanding of social relations, through the Cultural Political Economy approach by Bob Jessop & Ngai-Ling Sum, a framework dedicated to understanding the discursive dimension of political... (More)
Populism has become a political catchphrase across the world, spanning across the entire political spectrum in various forms. In Spain, the left-wing populist party Podemos is the most significant case, adopting a post-marxist perspective less focused on the economy than orthodox marxism. In light of this, this thesis examines their main economic program through use of Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis, in order to investigate their understanding of the economy and its social relations. The theoretical framework used is a Marxist and Polanyian understanding of social relations, through the Cultural Political Economy approach by Bob Jessop & Ngai-Ling Sum, a framework dedicated to understanding the discursive dimension of political economy using a concept called the economic imaginary. The research questions are therefore formulated with an aim to understand Podemos’ economic imaginary, the social actors and relations within it, as well as how the economic program can be linked to Podemos’ populist project. In short, the economic imaginary found in the program is understood by the researcher as a National-Popular Keynesian Welfare State, with an attempt to conciliate the social relations in the economy while integrating citizens into society. Regarding the connection between the populist project and the economic imaginary, this is seen as a consequence of the right-ward shift of political and economic discourse. (Less)
Popular Abstract
In recent years, politics in Europe have become more populist. Though there is a debate what populism actually is, it usually addresses and appeals to ”the people” as against an elite, whatever the people or the elite is thought to be. Spain is no different: since the financial crisis, the populist left-wing party Podemos has increased dramatically in size, using a radical tone in their speech to gather voters. Ideologically, the party is inspired by the ideas of Chantal Mouffe & Ernesto Laclau, who support ”radical democracy” and think that the way people talk can influence what people think about politics. Therefore, Podemos are not interested in the economy in the same way that other left-wing parties historically have been.
With this... (More)
In recent years, politics in Europe have become more populist. Though there is a debate what populism actually is, it usually addresses and appeals to ”the people” as against an elite, whatever the people or the elite is thought to be. Spain is no different: since the financial crisis, the populist left-wing party Podemos has increased dramatically in size, using a radical tone in their speech to gather voters. Ideologically, the party is inspired by the ideas of Chantal Mouffe & Ernesto Laclau, who support ”radical democracy” and think that the way people talk can influence what people think about politics. Therefore, Podemos are not interested in the economy in the same way that other left-wing parties historically have been.
With this in mind, this thesis investigates the economic program of Podemos, to figure out how they think that the economy works. It also analyses how people and their relationships in the economy are described, for example the relationship between workers and company owners, as left-wing parties traditionally view this as a relationship filled with conflict. Lastly, the thesis discusses the connection between this economic world view and the populism that Podemos use in their political speech. To do this, the thesis uses a method called Critical Discourse Analysis, which analyses the language and the themes in a text, and connects this to how society works. Regarding theory, the thesis uses a framework called Cultural Political Economy, which aims to explain this connection, together with a Marxist and Polanyian theory of social relationships.
According to the researcher, the results show that Podemos think of the economy as a National-Popular Keynesian Welfare State. This means that ”the people” is every Spanish citizen, and Podemos want a stable economy that is able to provide for everybody, including the unemployed. At the same time, they distance themselves from traditional left-wing politics, in that the relationships in the economy are presented as mostly peaceful, and that everyone can work together and unite society. The researcher also thinks that these economic policies are close to traditional social democracy, and in line with Podemos’ populist politics. This is because what is considered ”sound” economics, but also left-wing economics, has shifted to the right during the last decades. (Less)
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author
König, Jacob LU
supervisor
organization
course
SOCM04 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Podemos, Populism, Critical Discourse Analysis, Cultural Political Economy, Hegemony, Embeddedness, Economic Imaginary
language
English
id
8924126
date added to LUP
2017-11-17 10:47:30
date last changed
2017-11-17 10:47:30
@misc{8924126,
  abstract     = {Populism has become a political catchphrase across the world, spanning across the entire political spectrum in various forms. In Spain, the left-wing populist party Podemos is the most significant case, adopting a post-marxist perspective less focused on the economy than orthodox marxism. In light of this, this thesis examines their main economic program through use of Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis, in order to investigate their understanding of the economy and its social relations. The theoretical framework used is a Marxist and Polanyian understanding of social relations, through the Cultural Political Economy approach by Bob Jessop & Ngai-Ling Sum, a framework dedicated to understanding the discursive dimension of political economy using a concept called the economic imaginary. The research questions are therefore formulated with an aim to understand Podemos’ economic imaginary, the social actors and relations within it, as well as how the economic program can be linked to Podemos’ populist project. In short, the economic imaginary found in the program is understood by the researcher as a National-Popular Keynesian Welfare State, with an attempt to conciliate the social relations in the economy while integrating citizens into society. Regarding the connection between the populist project and the economic imaginary, this is seen as a consequence of the right-ward shift of political and economic discourse.},
  author       = {König, Jacob},
  keyword      = {Podemos,Populism,Critical Discourse Analysis,Cultural Political Economy,Hegemony,Embeddedness,Economic Imaginary},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Political Economy of Left-Wing Populism - social relations and the economic imaginary of Podemos},
  year         = {2017},
}