Populism and contemporary global media: populist communication logics and the co-construction of transnational identities

Dr Precious N Chatterje-Doody and Dr Rhys Crilley

Chapter forthcoming in D. MacDonald, D. Nabers and F. Stengel (eds.) Populism and world politics: exploring inter- and transnational dimensions, under contract with Palgrave Macmillan

Keywords: populism, global media, clickbait, news, populist communication logics, social media


The study of populism has often focused on specific leaders or movements within nation-states. Such accounts approach the media as a dissemination tool of these ‘populist actors’, rather than as a producer of populism in itself. However, the ongoing development of new media technologies makes such an approach untenable. With populism understood as a particular set of communication logics in which core appeals are articulated, the contemporary global media environment has fundamentally altered the processes by which such appeals evolve, including the range of voices that contribute to that evolution. Where empirically-observable populism was once predominantly a national phenomenon, this is decreasingly the case. On- and offline transnational collaboration is becoming increasingly common, together with the emergence of genuinely international movements. This chapter updates discussions of populism and the media, by offering an empirically-grounded discussion of how new media technologies facilitate transnational co-production and dissemination of populist appeals amongst both core and peripheral audiences. Our discussions of legacy media developments, online grassroots campaigning and state-funded international broadcasting show how media actors themselves (including particular platforms) contribute to the production of populist messages and identities, especially because new media logics closely correspond to the needs of populist communication.