NOTE: Due to the current lockdown from COVID-19 in the ACT, this event has been postponed until further notice.
Book event: Critical Theory and Demagogic Populism. Paul Jones in conversation with Melinda Cooper.
Please join us to (belatedly) launch Paul Jones’s new book, Critical Theory and Demagogic Populism (Manchester University Press, 2020)
Critical Theory and Demagogic Populism provides a detailed analysis of the relevance of the Frankfurt School’s sociological work to understanding contemporary populism. It draws on the research that the Institute for Social Research conducted concerning domestic demagogues during its period of ‘exile’ in the USA. The book argues that the figure of the demagogue has been neglected in both orthodox ‘populism studies’ and in existing critical approaches to populism such as that of Ernesto Laclau. Demagogic ‘capture’ of populist movements and their legacies is thus a contingent prospect for ‘left’ and ‘right’ populist movements. An account of ‘modern demagogy’ is thus detailed, from the Institute’s own dedicated demagogy studies through to their dialogue with Weber’s work on charismatic leadership, the US liberal critique of demagogy and Freud’s group psychology. The Institute’s linkage of ‘modern demagogy’ to the culture industry speaks to the underestimation in ‘populism studies’ of the significance of two other ‘modern phenomena. The first is ‘cultural populism’ – the appeal to a folkloric understanding of ‘the people’ and/or ‘their culture’. The second is the pivotal role of modern means of communication, not only in the recent prominence of social media but demagogic exploitation of all media since the rise of literacy and the widening of the suffrage in the nineteenth century. The dialectical dimensions of these processes are also highlighted in reconstructing the Institute’s work and in extending these analyses through to the present. The book so concludes by weighing up potential counter-demagogic forces within and beyond the culture industry.
Paul K Jones
Paul K Jones is Reader in Sociology in the ANU Research School of Social Sciences. His work sits at the intersection of sociology, critical theory and political communication and maintains a critical dialogue with the legacies of the Birmingham cultural studies project, in which he was formally trained. He is the author of Raymond Williams’s Sociology of Culture: a critical reconstruction (Palgrave) and lead-author of Key Concepts in Media and Communications (Sage). Most recently he published “Demagogic Populism and Media System: a preliminary articulation”, in The European Journal of Communication in 2021.
Melinda Cooper is Professor of Sociology in the ANU Research School of Social Sciences. Her monograph Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism, was published in Zone Book’s Near Futures series in 2017 and is currently completing a manuscript entitled Capital Gains and Public Liabilities on the limits of contemporary public finance and the possibility of revolutionary alternatives. Her most recent publications include “Infinite Regress: Virginia School Neoliberalism and the Tax Revolt” published in Capitalism: A Journal of History and Economics in 2021 and “The Alt-Right: Neoliberalism, Libertarianism and the Fascist Temptation,” published in Theory Culture and Society in 2021.
5:30pm - 7:00pm Monday 11 October, 2021
Venue: Auditorium, RSSS Building
Chair: Melinda Cooper in conversation with Paul Jones