Do Populist Leaders Mimic the Language of Ordinary Citizens? Evidence From India - Sciences Po Access content directly
Journal Articles Political Psychology Year : 2023

Do Populist Leaders Mimic the Language of Ordinary Citizens? Evidence From India

Abstract

Minimal understandings of populism focus on measuring explicit stances of antielitism and people centrism. What remains poorly understood is the way less overt forms of populist rhetoric enable leaders to emulate the language of common citizens to achieve electoral success. This article suggests that the study of the populist discourse also requires taking into account their implicit occurrences, that is, those conveying connect, closeness, commonness, and similarity with ordinary people. Expressed through performances of “layman likeness,” they enable populist politicians to dissociate from traditional ruling elites while enabling people leaders' identifications. Using a novel 261-million-word dataset of Indian political discourses—including the speeches of 11 Prime Ministers—to proxy such identifications, we argue that populist leaders rely on a mimesis of the common people. Three core mimetic speech items are quantified: intimacy, disintermediation, and simplicity. We use a replicable corpus-contextual multiword collocation technique to populate lexicons of pretested psychometric profiles as well as a threefold validation method. The analysis finds that current Prime Minister Narendra Modi communicates mimetic identification around his persona, indexing the linguistic markers of his stylistic, ideological, and institutional populist politics. We indicate that our context-aware method could also be of use to study the cross-regional variability of mimetic populism.
No file

Dates and versions

hal-03962553 , version 1 (30-01-2023)

Identifiers

Cite

Jean‐thomas Martelli, Christophe Jaffrelot. Do Populist Leaders Mimic the Language of Ordinary Citizens? Evidence From India. Political Psychology, 2023, ⟨10.1111/pops.12881⟩. ⟨hal-03962553⟩
32 View
0 Download

Altmetric

Share

Gmail Facebook X LinkedIn More