Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times: Culture, Security and Populism in the New Europe

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Overview

The rise of rightwing populism has brought into question prevailing assumptions in social science about multicultural Europe. In this compelling study of populist politics, Mabel Berezin argues that the emergence of the movement in the 1990s was a historical surprise rather than an expected event. She questions whether rightwing populism would exist in the absence of the Maastricht Treaty and the subsequent intensification of cultural and economic Europeanization. Using an innovative methodology, Berezin analyzes the French National Front in relation to the broader context of Europeanization and globalization. She unpacks the political and cultural processes that evoke the thin commitments characterizing citizen support, and shows that we cannot make sense of rightwing populism without considering the historical legacies and practices, both national and international, within which it arises. This book makes a novel argument about the relationship between democracy and political and social security.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Illiberal Politics provides a deeply original interpretation of the rise of the French Front National in the context of Europeanization and globalization. This book is a wonderful demonstration of Berezin's remarkable interdisciplinary reach. Her event and identity-centered approach will sustain new types of dialogues between sociologists, political scientists, and others students of political culture." - Michele Lamont, Harvard University, author of The Dignity of Working Men: Morality and the Boundaries of Race, Class, and Immigration

"Mabel Berezin’s brilliant new book offers a subtle but penetrating explanation for the rise of right-wing populist movements in wealthy nations. The imposition of neoliberal models of economic development requires elites to renegotiate the social contract between citizens and the state, thereby creating a climate of insecurity and vulnerability that nationalist politicians exploit to win elections and gain power. Her insightful analysis reveals that neo-fascist, anti-immigrant movements are not just blind expressions of ancient prejudices, but sociologically predictable consequences of a globalizing world order." - Douglas S. Massey, Princeton University

"The study of contemporary European politics has been sorely missing a cultural perspective. Berezin brilliantly fills this gap, simultaneously providing a subtle and provocative explanation for the contrasting influence of right populism in different countries and contributing new concepts and methodological tools for the analysis of political phenomena." - Juan Díez Medrano, University of Barcelona

"Despite the abundant literature on right wing parties, Mabel Berezin provides an original and innovative analysis of why, after a long period of obscurity, right wing populism unexpectedly appeared in Western Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and, more specifically, why the French National Front (FN) has enjoyed continued success well into the 21st century.... Berezin should be commended for an original study and for the strength of her rich analysis of French politics, history, and culture. The historical and narrative approach , and the analysis of events allow the author to demonstrate the wiser and the broader significance of the FN." - Canadian Journal of Sociology

"A very interesting book to read" - e-Extreme, Newsletter of the ECPR Standing Group on Extremism & Deomocracy

"...this work is clearly an important contribution to the field and one that brings fresh ideas to a decades-old debate. The book is to be highly recommended." - Journal of Common Market Studies

"At first glance, the argument that neoliberalism has generated an antidemocratic and illiberal political climate seems convoluted. Berezin (Cornell Univ.) removes all confusion with a clearly researched and authoritative account of how Europe has changed...The historical analysis is rich and sophisticated." - CHOICE, A.R. Brunello, Eckerd College

"...an engaging analytical narrative..." -Geoff Eley, The Journal of Modern History

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Mabel Berezin is Associate Professor of Sociology at Cornell University. She is the author of Making the Fascist Self: The Political Culture of Inter-war Italy (1997) which was awarded the J. David Greenstone Prize for Best Book of 1996-1997 in Politics and History by the American Political Science Association and named an Outstanding Academic Book of 1997 by Choice. She is also co-editor of Europe Without Borders (2003) and has written numerous articles on European politics, culture and history.
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Table of Contents

List of illustrations

List of tables

Introduction The rightwing populist moment as historical surprise 1

Pt. I Situating the rightwing populist moment 15

1 Cinderella in the polis: rightwing populism as historical phenomenon and political concept 17

2 Experience and events: reformulating the rightwing populist moment 37

Pt. II The trajectory of thin commitments: France and the National Front 59

3 Beginning on the margins: the French first! 61

4 "Neither right nor left: French!" The campaign for political normalcy 79

5 The paradox of defeat: the rise and fall and rise of the French National Front 99

6 The 2002 presidential elections: the fabulous destiny of Jean-Marie Le Pen 126

7 The "new" April 21: from the presidential elections to the referendum on the European constitution 167

Pt. III Theorizing Europe and rightwing populism 197

8 Reasserting the national against Europe: politics and perception 199

9 Discovering the national in Europe 221

Conclusion: The future of illiberal politics: democracy and security 243

Bibliography 259

Index 297

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