Populism versus technocracy : Performance, passions, and aesthetics

Book chapter


Moffitt, Benjamin. (2019). Populism versus technocracy : Performance, passions, and aesthetics. In In Cossarini, Paolo and Vallespín, Fernando (Ed.). Populism and passions : Democratic legitimacy after austerity pp. 49-64 Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351205474-4
AuthorsMoffitt, Benjamin
EditorsCossarini, Paolo and Vallespín, Fernando
Abstract

Populism is often contrasted or presented as a reaction to technocracy. Substantively, the divide between the two is premised on the question of who is best equipped to make decisions on behalf of a populace – ‘the people’ for populism, or those with the requisite expertise and specialist training for technocrats. However, less attention has been paid to the vast performative, stylistic and aesthetic divides between populism and technocracy, and the role these divides play in the mobilization of passions. This chapter sets out to engage with this under-explored area of study. First, it outlines a definition of populism as a political style, highlighting this approach’s utility for understanding the passionate and performative dimensions of the phenomenon. It then turns to conceptualizations of the divide between populism and technocracy, building on recent work by Caramani (2017) and Bickerton and Invernizzi Accetti (2017) to outline the core stylistic differences between populism and technocracy – namely, the former based on an appeal to ‘the people’ versus ‘the elite’; ‘bad manners’; and the performance of crisis; while the latter is based on appeal to expertise; ‘good manners’; and the performance of stability and progress (Moffitt 2016). Finally, it argues that populism more inventively and effectively engages with the passionate dimension of politics, challenging dominant notions of citizens as rational homo politicus, and contending that the populist style is far more attuned to mediatized dimension of contemporary politics than the technocratic style. In doing so, the chapter draws on illustrative examples of populist actors from across the globe.

Page range49-64
Year2019
Book titlePopulism and passions : Democratic legitimacy after austerity
PublisherRoutledge
Place of publicationNew York
ISBN9780815383789
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351205474-4
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All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online31 May 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited15 Nov 2021
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