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News Populism series wraps up with 'politics of resentment'

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Donald Trump on campaign trail.

​Donald Trump on the campaign trail.

Populism took center stage with the election of Donald Trump in 2016, but its arrival came with a host of questions. Some of the answers will be provided in the last of a yearlong series of lectures on Thursday (May 3).

Bart Bonikowski, associate professor of sociology at Harvard, will offer a redefinition of populism that questions whether it should be placed at the core of radical-right politics. His talk, "Trump, Populism and the Politics of Resentment," is set for 4 p.m. in Trabant Theater.

Trump’s election has been interpreted as an unexpected victory for populism in the United States. But Bonikowski, who researches the intersection of sociology and politics, argues that a narrower definition of populism is more analytically useful.

His definition reveals a more fundamental feature of contemporary democracies: an escalating tension between alternative conceptions of nationhood, which increasingly is shaping political decision-making. These nationalist cleavages have been politically mobilized amid structural changes that have generated fears within the white majority of a loss in status — with potentially pernicious consequences for group relations and democratic stability.

Bart Bonikowski

​Bart Bonikowski, Harvard sociology professor

Bonikowski, who also co-directs the Research Cluster on Global Populism, relies on surveys, computational text analysis and experimental research to apply insights from sociology to the study of politics. His talk wraps up the "Taking Stock of Global Populism" lecture series, hosted by the Center for Global and Area Studies Center and co-sponsored by the Journalism Program; the College of Arts & Sciences, Humanities; the Center for Political Communication; and the School of Public Policy & Administration. Other co-sponsors are the departments of Political Science & International Relations; Sociology & Criminal Justice; Languages, Literatures & Culture; anthropology; history; and English.

During the past academic year, seven leading scholars spanning a variety of disciplines from around the country have shared their insight into the manifestations of global populism. The series' aim is to help students, faculty, staff and the general public gain a better understanding of the rise of populism, its causes and implications.

Bonikowski's talk is free and open to the public.

Story published on 4/14/2018 ; last modified on  
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​Should we view Donald Trump's election as an unexpected victory for populism? Harvard's Bart Bonikowski will share a few thoughts on that in Thursday speech.

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Populism series wraps up with 'politics of resentment'
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