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Populism in the UK: A Critical Analysis of the Discursive Logics of the UK Independence Party

Flitcroft, Ryan (2021) Populism in the UK: A Critical Analysis of the Discursive Logics of the UK Independence Party. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Recent political events in the United Kingdom have given rise to an explosion of interest in the use of the concept of populism. These applications overwhelmingly take populism as a form of ideology and in doing so make several essentialist assumptions that betray the usefulness of the term and which reduce it to a mere descriptor of particular phenomena. This work seeks to re-establish the analytical and critical value of populism using a refinement of Laclauian discourse theory via the ‘Logics’ framework of critical explanation. This piece contributes to theoretical debates by showing that populism is best understood as a political logic that organises a discourse in a particular configuration, one in which other political and fantasmatic logics must be accounted for in order to unearth and preserve the context-specificity of populism in a given case and produce an overarching substantive-critical account. In applying this framework to the case of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), this work also makes a methodological contribution to the field by providing a means to identify populist logics by coding patterns of articulation with a particular focus on ‘equivalence’ and ‘difference’. What is demonstrated is the adoption of a populist political logic by UKIP from 2011 to 2016 and in doing so extended the affective reach of a traditionally nationalistic programme. This reading expands current understandings of UKIP which overstress the ‘weighting’ of populist and nationalistic aspects against one another, and instead provides a multifaceted, diachronic portrayal that explicates, amongst other things, points of friction and symbiosis between populism and other logics such as nationalism. It is then shown how these logics were appropriated in the Brexit referendum by the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign. Finally, these cases are utilised to re-evaluate ongoing theoretical debates in populism research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Ryan Flitcroft
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2021 16:40
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2021 16:40

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