5868 Sustainable Economics and Business II: Global Trends in Populism and Social Inequality
Adam Brzezinski
Contact details
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
02/09/23 to 02/26/23
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Subject(s) Bachelor Programs
Day Date Time Room
Tuesday 05/30/23 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM TC.4.15
Wednesday 05/31/23 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM EA.5.034
Thursday 06/01/23 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM D5.1.002
Monday 06/05/23 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM TC.4.16
Tuesday 06/06/23 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM TC.5.04
Wednesday 06/07/23 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM TC.5.12
Monday 06/12/23 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM TC.4.16
Tuesday 06/13/23 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM TC.4.16
Wednesday 06/14/23 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM TC.4.16

Populism is not a new phenomenon. Yet its form has changed, characterised by a surge of right-wing populists in Europe and beyond. This has raised a series of questions that elude simple answers. Why do populist parties increasingly emerge from the economic “right”, rather than the “left”? What explains the timing of the populist take-off? And what role do economic inequality and cultural cleavages play? Populism is here to stay; understanding its causes and consequences may help us understand how its worst tendencies can be mitigated in the future.

This course examines populism from a theoretical and empirical perspective. Drawing on recent theories from political science and economics, we will examine the fundamental economic, social, and cultural drivers of populism. This will be accompanied by real-world applications: we will analyse the different forms of populism that arose over time and examine the consequences for the economy, society, and politics.   

We will pay particular attention to the various components of social inequality that may shape the political discourse. Economic inequality is often highlighted as generating support for populist parties, but polarization on cultural issues may be just as relevant. As different forms of inequality generate support for different types of policies, distinguishing between them is a necessary step towards understanding recent trends in populism. Migration, globalisation and automatization can further deepen existing forms of social inequality and will therefore form another important part of our discussion.

Some of the topics covered in this course are: the evolution of populism over time and across countries; right-wing and left-wing populism; forms of social inequality; migration, globalisation, and cultural change; populism and redistribution; the role of narratives in political competition; economic, social, and cultural consequences of populism.

Learning outcomes
  • Appreciation of the consequences of populism on the economy, society, and politics
  • Knowledge of different forms of populism and its evolution in recent history
  • Understanding of different forms of social inequality and their role in shaping populist platforms
  • Application of theories of populism to real-world examples
  • Understanding of quantitative methods to assess the potential causes and consequences of populism
Attendance requirements

Students must attend more than 80% of the units (i.e. at least 8 units). In case of an absence the lecturer is to be informed in advance via email, especially in cases of conflicting class schedules.

Teaching/learning method(s)
  • Lectures
  • In-class quizzes
  • Reading of academic articles and book chapters
  • Group presentations
  • Group and plenum discussion
  • Essay
  • Active in-class participation (including in-class group work, quizzes and short presentations): 40%
  • Group presentation: 30%
  • Essay: 30%
Prerequisites for participation and waiting lists

Course enrollment is on the basis of "first-come, first-served” principle. If you have registered but cannot participate in the course, please de-register via LPIS during the registration period so that your course is available to students on the waiting list. If there is a waiting list for enrollment in the course, students at the waiting list will be notified after the end of the enrollment period, and will be allocated to available places. Students will be ranked by their study progress not by their rank on the waiting list. This procedure, however, is not to be understood as a place guarantee.


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Last edited: 2022-11-20