Five College Consortium


Subject Name: 
Political Science
Course Number: 
Amherst College

[IL, SC] For over a generation now, populist social movements and political parties have resisted globalization. During the ascendance of globalization (1980s -2000s), leftist populism took the lead in mobilizing opposition to globalization, not only by marginalized groups but also by the general public.  In the current period, however, the rise of powerful strains of right-wing populism have begun to take over these struggles. We will examine why this has happened as well as explore why far right movements that were once marginal political forces have begun to successfully challenge leftist and even centrist political parties to form influential new populist parties. 

We will analyze how in representative democracies across the world, trust in public institutions and established political parties has all but collapsed because of the inability or disinclination of governing elites to address popular anxieties and societal demands concerning inequality, immigration, globalization and the upheaval in labor markets.

Related themes to be addressed include the relationship between right and left wing populism and representative democracy, the ideological, organizational, and policy differences between right wing and left wing populism, the relationship between populist moments and populist parties (which comes first?), the transnational dimensions of populism as well as populism’s impact on the dynamics of world politics. 

We will also explore the class, ethnic and gender composition of populist movements and the role charismatic leadership plays in populist movements and parties. Although our inquiry into the character, strength and weaknesses of populism in this era of crisis in global capitalism will primarily be theoretical and conceptual, empirical illustrations will include, but not be limited to, India and the United States.

Limited to 18 students.  Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professors Basu and Machala.

Instructor Permission: 
Permission is required for interchange registration during all registration periods.
Schedule #: 

Course Sections

Sect # Credits Instructor(s) Instructor Email Meeting Times Location
01 4.0 Amrita Basu, Pavel Machala; W 02:00PM-04:30PM FAYE 217