Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-768dbb666b-prhj4 Total loading time: 0.729 Render date: 2023-02-02T19:38:07.027Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

15 - Shaping the People

Populism and the Politics of Identity Formation in South America

from Part IV - Inclusion, Populism, and Democracy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 January 2021

Diana Kapiszewski
Georgetown University, Washington DC
Steven Levitsky
Harvard University, Massachusetts
Deborah J. Yashar
Princeton University, New Jersey
Get access


Can populism be a source of long-lasting changes in citizens' beliefs, behaviors, and political identities? This chapter follows recent literature in treating populism as identity-shaping. Populist movements mobilize constituencies based on anti-establishment appeals that draw a wedge between a "corrupt elite" and a "victimized people" of the nation. It is electorally advantageous to define the "people" in a broad but bounded way, such that there is simultaneously a large, heterogeneous coalition of voters and a clearly defined enemy. We show through observational and experimental evidence that populism's emphasis on a broad but bounded concept of the people can shape the distribution of citizens' identities by reducing the cost and increasing the benefit of assuming non-elite social identities. Populist discourse is thus an identity-shaping political tool that can serve to incorporate those at the margins. This heterogeneity, however, creates a sustainability problem. With little to glue its members together beyond their anti-elite status, populist support coalitions are particularly vulnerable to disintegration after victory. We argue that some correlates of populism, like redistributional economic policies, and a tendency to organize constituents, are driven by the populists' need to stabilize their support coalitions. We argue that these are identity-stabilizing political tools.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Alcalde, M. Cristina. 2009. “Between Incas and Indians: Inca Kola and the construction of a Peruvian-global modernity.” Journal of Consumer Culture 9(1): 3154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Auyero, Javier. 2000. Poor People’s Politics: Peronist Survival Networks and the Legacy of Evita. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bogardus, E. S. 1933. “A Social Distance Scale.” Sociology & Social Research 17: 265271.Google Scholar
Bolívar, Adriana, Chollett, Miguel Bolívar, Bisbe, Luisana, Brice, Robertoño-Leon, Jun Ishibashi, Nora Kaplan, Esteban Emilio Mosonyi, and Velásquez, Ronny. 2009. “Discourse and Racism in Venezuela: A ‘cafe con leche’ Country.” In Racism and Discourse in Latin America, edited by Van Dijk, Teun A., 291334. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
Brewer, Marilynn B. 1991. “The Social Self: On Being the Same and Different at the Same Time.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 17(5): 475482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Caddick, Brian. 1982. “Perceived Illegitimacy and Intergroup Relations.” In Social Identity and Intergroup Relations, edited by Tajfel, Henri, 137154. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Cannon, Barry. 2008. “Class/Race Polarisation in Venezuela and the Electoral Success of Hugo Chávez: a break with the past or the song remains the same?Third World Quarterly 29(4): 731748.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cardoso, Fernando Henrique, and Faletto, Enzo. 1979. Dependency and Development in Latin America. Berkeley: University of California.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chandra, Kanchan. 2012. “Introduction.” In Constructivist Theories of Ethnic Politics, edited by Chandra, Kanchan, 147. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chong, Dennis, and Druckman, James N.. 2007. “Framing Theory.” Annual Review of Political Science 10: 103126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Collier, David, and Levitsky, Steven. 1997. “Democracy with Adjectives: Conceptual Innovation in Comparative Research.” World Politics 49(3): 430451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Collier, Ruth Berins. 2002. “Popular Representation in Latin America’s Neoliberal Democracies: Political Participation and Associational Life.” Unpublished manuscript. Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
Collier, Ruth Berins, and Collier, David. 1979. “Inducements versus Constraints: Disaggregating ‘Corporatism.’” American Political Science Review 73: 967986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Collier, Ruth Berins, and Collier, David. 1991. Shaping the Political Arena: Critical Junctures, the Labor Movement, and Regime Dynamics in Latin America. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Collier, Ruth Berins, and Handlin, Samuel P.. 2005. Shifting Interest Regimes of the Working Classes in Latin America. Technical report, Institute of Industrial Relations, University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
Degregori, Carlos Ivan. 1991. “El aprendiz de brujo y el curandero chino: etnicidad, modernidad y ciudadania.” In Demonios y redentores en el nuevo Peru: una tragedia en dos vueltas, edited by Degregori, Carlos Ivan, and Grompone, Romeo, 68132. Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos.Google Scholar
Dornbusch, R. and Edwards, Sebastian. 1991. The Macroeconomics of Populism in Latin America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Drury, John, and Reicher, Steve. 1999. “The Intergroup Dynamics of Collective Empowerment: Substantiating the Social Identity Model of Crowd Behavior.” Group Processes and Intergroup Relations 2(4): 381402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Etchemendy, Sebastián 2001. “Constructing Reform Coalitions: The Politics of Compensation in Argentina’s Economic Liberalization.” Latin American Politics and Society 43(3): 136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Evans, Peter. 1979. Dependent Development: The Alliance of Multinational, State, and Local Capital in Brazil. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grandón Fernández, P., Cova Solar, F., Saldivia Bórquez, S. and Bustos Navarrete, C.. 2015. “Psychometric Analysis and Adaptation of the Social Distance Scale (DS) in a Chilean Sample.” Salud Mental 38(2), 117122.Google Scholar
Hartlyn, Jonathan. 1988. The Politics of Coalition Rule in Colombia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Hawkins, Kirk A. 2009. “Is Chávez Populist? Measuring Populist Discourse in Comparative Perspective.” Comparative Political Studies 42: 10401067.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hawkins, Kirk A. 2011. Venezuela’s Chavismo and Populism in Comparative Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Herrera Salas, Jesus Maria. 2005. “Ethnicity and Revolution: The Political Economy of Racism in Venezuela.” Latin American Perspectives 32(2): 7291. Scholar
Laclau, Ernesto. 2005. On Populist Reason. London: Verso.Google Scholar
Laitin, David D. 1998. Identity in Formation: The Russian-Speaking Populations in the near Abroad. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Lazarus, Richard S. 1991. Emotion and Adaptation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Louche, C. 1982. “Open Conflict and the Dynamics of Intergroup Negotiations.” In Social Identity and Intergroup Relations, edited by Tajfel, H., 469482. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Lu, Min, Sadiq, Saad, Feaster, Daniel J., and Ishwaran, Hemant. 2018. “Estimating Individual Treatment Effect in Observational Data Using Random Forest Methods.” Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics 27(1): 209219.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Madrid, Raul L. 2011. “Ethnic Proximity and Ethnic Voting in Peru.” Journal of Latin American Studies 43(2): 267297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Madrid, Raul L. 2012. The Rise of Ethnic Politics in Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McGuire, James W. 1997. Peronism without Peron: Unions, Parties, and Democracy in Argentina. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Molinie, Antoinette. 2004. “The Resurrection of the Inca: The Role of Indian Representations in the Invention of the Peruvian Nation.” History and Anthropology 15 (Sept.): 233250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mudde, Cas, and Kaltwasser, Cristobal Rovira. 2013. “Exclusionary vs. Inclusionary Populism: Comparing Contemporary Europe and Latin America.” Government and Opposition 48(2): 147174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nagel, Joane. 1995. “American India Ethnic Renewal: Politics and the Resurgence of Identity.” American Sociological Review 60: 947965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nichter, Simeon. 2008. “Vote Buying or Turnout Buying? Machine Politics and the Secret Ballot.” American Political Science Review 102(1): 1931.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Platow, Michael J., and van Knippenberg, Daan. 2001. “A Social Identity Analysis of Leadership Endorsement: The Effects of Leader Ingroup Prototypicality and Distributive Intergroup Fairness.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 27: 15081519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Posner, Daniel N. 2005. Institutions and Ethnic Politics in Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roberts, Kenneth M. 1995. “Neoliberalism and the Transformation of Populism in Latin America: The Peruvian Case.” World Politics 48(1): 82116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roberts, Kenneth M. 2015. “Populism, Political Mobilizations, and Crises of Political Representation.” In The Promise and Perils of Populism: Global Perspectives, edited by de la Torre, Carlos, 140158. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.Google Scholar
Rothgerber, H. 1997. “External Intergroup Threat as an Antecedent to Perceptions in In-Group and Out-Group Homogeneity.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 73(6): 12061212.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sartori, Giovanni. 1984. “Guidelines for Concept Analysis.” In Social Science Concepts: A Systematic Analysis, edited by Sartori, Giovanni, 1585. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
Stokes, Susan C. 2005. “Perverse Accountability: A Formal Model of Machine Politics with Evidence from Argentina.” American Political Science Review 99(3): 315325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Szwarcberg, Mariela. 2012. “Political Parties and Rallies in Latin America.” Party Politics 20(3): 456466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tajfel, Henri. 1981. Human Groups and Social Categories: Studies in Social Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Tajfel, Henri, and Turner, J. C.. 1986. “The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behaviour.” In Psychology of Intergroup Relations, edited by Worschel, S., and Austin, W. G., 724. Chicago: Nelson-Hall.Google Scholar
Turner, J. C., and Brown, R.. 1978. “Social Status, Cognitive Alternatives, and Intergroup Relations.” In Differentiation Between Social Groups: Studies in the Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations, edited by Tajfel, Henri, 201234. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Vom Hau, Matthias. 2009. “Unpacking the School: Textbooks, Teachers, and the Construction of Nationhood in Mexico, Argentina, and Peru.” Latin American Research Review 44(3): 127154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Waters, Mary C. 1999. Black Identities: West India Immigrant Dreams and American Realities. New York: Russell Sage Foundation and Cambridge: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weyland, Kurt. 1996. “Neopopulism and Neoliberalism in Latin America: Unexpected Affinities.” Studies in Comparative International Development 31(3): 331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weyland, K. 2001. “Clarifying a Contested Concept: Populism in the Study of Latin American Politics.” Comparative Politics 34(1), 122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wright, Gerald C. 1977. “Constituency Response to Congressional Behavior: The Impact of the House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Votes.” Western Political Quarterly 30: 401410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Yashar, Deborah J. 2005. Contesting Citizenship in Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats