An integrative social identity model of populist leadership

Journal article

Uysal, M. S., Jurstakova, K. and Uluşahin, Y. 2022. An integrative social identity model of populist leadership. Social and Personality Psychology Compass.
AuthorsUysal, M. S., Jurstakova, K. and Uluşahin, Y.

In recent years, the questions of what populism is and how populist leaders mobilize their followers have been the subject of extensive debate. While the social psychology literature holds unique theoretical tools that can be used to explain leader-follower dynamics, these have not yet been applied to understand populism and populist leadership. In this paper, we aim to discuss populism as a social-psychological concept and provide a comprehensive approach to examine the interactions between populist leaders and followers by using the identity leadership model (see New Psychology of Leadership, Haslam et al., 2020). Accordingly, we propose an integrative model in which we suggest that populism should be treated as a social-psychological concept based on (i) strong ingroup identification; (ii) interactive leadership processes that open spaces to followers for enacting their ingroup identity that end up with mobilization against vertical (e.g., elites) and horizontal (e.g., minorities, refugees, opponents) outgroups; (iii) leader's ingroup prototypicality and identity entrepreneurship that is boosted by using shared grievances, narratives of collective victimhood, and the destabilization of mainstream opponent leaders. Furthermore, by discussing real-world examples and recent studies, we aim to show how the content of what it means to be ‘us’ and what is seen as moral to ‘us’ can be shaped by populist leaders for mobilization.

KeywordsEntrepreneurship ; Leadership; Populism ; Prototypicality ; Social identity; Victimhood
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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Publication dates
Online02 Nov 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted14 Oct 2022
Deposited16 Nov 2022
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
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