Skip to main content

Photo: “Protesting against PRI“, by Gabriel Saldana, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Laclau, Ernesto. On populist reason. Verso, 2005.


In this highly original and influential work, Ernesto Laclau focuses on the construction of popular identities and how “the people” emerge as a collective actor. Skilfully combining theoretical analysis with a myriad of empirical references from numerous historical and geographical contexts, he offers a critical reading of the existing literature on populism, demonstrating its dependency on the theorists of “mass psychology,” such as Taine and Freud. On Populist Reason is essential reading for all those interested in the question of political identities in the present day.

Table of contents

  • Ambiguities and Paradoxes
  • Suggestion and Distorted Representations
  • Suggestion Imitation Identification
  • The People and the Discursive Production of Emptiness
  • Floating Signifiers and Social Heterogeneity
  • Populism Representation and Democracy
  • The Saga of Populism
  • Obstacles and Limits to the Construction of the People

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.