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In everyday use, the term populist variously connotes simplicity rather than complexity, crudeness rather than refinement, mass rather than elite appeal, and a preference for intuition and instinct over reason and deliberation. Scholarly analyses of parties and social movements regarded as populist have not always escaped the influence of these normative evaluations, leading to persistent doubts about the value of the concept for dispassionate research. Indeed, although the term populism has been applied to a variety of political parties and movements since the mid-nineteenth century, only in the 1960s did it begin to receive sustained attention as a political concept.

Initially, theorists sought to conceptualize populism in terms of a set of concrete political demands emanating from a distinct social base. Yet definitions based on a ...

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