Introduction
in The roots of populism
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Our investigation begins by situating the analysis offered in the book within the burgeoning field of academic studies on populism. While acknowledging common ground with other recent investigations, it is made clear that the general argument of the book stands at odds with the current consensus on populism as a fundamentally reactionary, nationalistic, or even straightforwardly xenophobic mode of contemporary politics. In sharp contrast to this dominant view, the underlying argument advanced in the book is that contemporary populism in the UK is a reaction to the decades-long process of neoliberalization, which began with Thatcher in the 1980s and was consolidated with Blair and New Labour between 1997 and 2010. As a result of this process, the British working class was essentially rendered homeless within the UK by a Labour Party increasingly anxious to distance itself from its heritage of working-class struggle and labour-union organization. The rise of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the 2000s articulated a certain disenchantment among the British working class about the established parties. The Great Recession beginning in 2008, and the period of Conservative-led austerity politics it ushered in, further alienated the working class from the political establishment and gave rise to the populist sentiment given consummate expression in the Brexit referendum result of 2016. The introduction concludes with a synopsis of each of chapter in the book.

The roots of populism

Neoliberalism and working-class lives

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