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Pabst, Adrian. “Beyond Binaries: Technocracy, Populism And Public Policy.” National Institute Economic Review 259 (2022): 67-80.


Populism is a paradoxical phenomenon that resists easy categorisation because it both rejects and intensifies certain elements of technocracy. Populist politics is at once a backlash against liberal-technocratic ideology and policy and an attempted corrective of some of its worst excesses, such as increasing inequality or pressures on wages. Despite deep differences, both rest on a binary logic that conceals alternatives to the convergence around variants of techno-populism defended by either ‘corporate populists’ or ‘insurgent populists’. One alternative is a public policy programme focused on the building of an economic democracy with more democratic workplaces and a greater emphasis on the dignity of decent jobs, besides policies to reduce regional disparities and foster shared prosperity. But policies alone cannot fully address the deep-seated grievances fuelling the support for populists. Fundamental institutional reform is needed to devolve power and wealth to people and the places where they live and work.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.