Measuring Populism as a Multi-dimensional Concept in Text

24.04.2023 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Julia Leschke
Lecturer affiliation: 
London School of Economics

The malleable nature of populism has rendered it notoriously difficult to measure the concept in text. We are thus still missing a conceptually valid measurement of populism in text, which can measure populism across time, parties and party systems. This study challenges existing populist-centrist approaches by proposing to understand populism as a multidimensional concept vis-à-vis its opposites– elitism and pluralism. Using quantitative text analysis and hand-coding of 165,000 political statements, the approach can validly determine the stances of political actors on a novel (anti-) populism scale in five party systems in manifestos (1960-2021) as well as parliamentary speeches (1990-2020). Based on checks of content and convergent validity, the approach outperforms existing measurements in text, while it is also the first to measure anti-populist ideas. The findings point toward the existence of an (anti-) populist divide across party systems and show that populism is adopted to different degrees by parties, depending on whether actors communicate in parliament or through manifestos.