Populism and the Struggle for Recognition

Course content

In recent years, we have seen a rise in populist parties and governments around the world. Sociologists and political scientists have explained the rise of populism in terms of widespread feelings of loss of status and resentment at the disrespect displayed by the political and cultural elite. In this course, we will discuss how and to what extent populism can be seen as part of a struggle for recognition and as a kind of identity politics. The course will study different kinds of demand for recognition and discuss their relationship to and effect on democratic norms and practice. Thus, the course offers the tools for a conceptual and normative analysis of the moral and democratic aspects of current struggles for respect, esteem, and status. Our aim is to attain a better understanding of both populist democracy and liberal democracy. Hence, will also discuss the populist claim for recognition in relation to democratic principles, institutions, and practices such as rights, majority rule, compromise, deliberation, and constitutionalism.


The course is based on a combination of empirical, theoretical, and normative studies of populism, democracy, and recognition. The approach of the instructor is solidly based in political theory and philosophy.



Bachelor: 7,5 ECTS

Kandidat: 7,5 ECTS

Learning outcome


  • Understanding different meanings of recognition
  • Understanding populism and its relation to recognition

Understanding the relation between democracy and equal respect


  • Analyze populism and democracy with philosophical concepts
  • Combine and synthesize insights from sociology, philosophy, and political theory

Evaluate different form of struggles in light of democratic norms


  • Critical thinking across different traditions and styles of argumentation.
  • Writing and presentation in a concise and clear manner.

Ability to develop a coherent argument.

This course will consist of a combination of short lectures, group work, and class room discussions.

We will read works on populism, democracy, recognition, and respect by a number of philosophers, political theorists, sociologists, and political scientists, including Rousseau, Kant, Axel Honneth, Jan-Werner Müller, Cas Mudde, P.F. Strawson, Stephen Darwall, Arlie Hochschild, Nadia Urbinati, Chantal Mouffe, Ernesto Laclau, and Christian F. Rostbøll


Total number of pages: approx. 1000

The course presupposes a strong interest in political theory and philosophy as well as how they can be used to analyze contemporary politics.

Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free Written Assignement
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Criteria for exam assesment

  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

Department of Political Science, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Political Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Christian F. Rostbøll   (2-6675436c6976316e7831676e)
Saved on the 29-10-2021

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