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Title:Transatlantic perspectives on contemporary populism: A narratological approach to the rhetoric of prominent US and European populist leaders
Author(s):Wheeler, Allison Catherine
Advisor(s):Niekerk, Carl
Contributor(s):Henry, Lucas
Department / Program:Liberal Arts & Sciences
Discipline:European Union Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
European Union
Liberal Democracy
United States
The Netherlands
Abstract:This thesis is an investigation into the narrative structures and content of twenty-first century populist leaders in the European Union (EU) and the United States. The volume of research on populism today appears to be at an all-time high as globalization becomes more ubiquitous and peaceful international relations are on thin ice. The goal of this research is to use case studies of populist leaders’ speeches compared against one another to identify trends, anomalies, and impacts in reference to definitions commonly accepted by the academic community and the media. The case studies have been chosen from current politicians considered populists by leading researchers in the field, such as Cas Mudde. I am interested in the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán; Marine Le Pen of France; Geert Wilders of the Netherlands; the President of the United States, Donald Trump, and Senator Bernie Sanders of the United States. These case studies will be analyzed in an effort to understand the variance of populism across Europe and across the Atlantic with an actor, the US, that has historically been an influential political and economic ally and, at times, adversary of the EU since its inception in the 1950s. For the sake of comparison, this research also includes a case study of Taoiseach Leo Varadker of Ireland, an EU member state that, interestingly, has not experienced the pulls of populism as have become manifest elsewhere in the EU. Scholarly consensus is that populism is indeed a very “thin” ideology and while it has common overarching themes in the 21st century, its inherently paradoxical nature allows for an irrefutable degree of variance within. Additionally, its degree of success and the traction it does or does not gain in a political system is dependent on its own sensitivities and the narratives in which leaders frame prominent issues of the time.
Issue Date:2020-05-11
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Allison Wheeler
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-26
Date Deposited:2020-05

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