Document Type



Political Science


This project started as a comparison of varieties of populism emergent in the past two decades, which grew into discerning how authoritarian populism is rooted in nativism as a recurrent concept throughout immigration policy in the U.S. This is demonstrated historically by reviewing the different types of nativist movements in different epochs of controversial immigration policy. The project’s methodology derives from the usage of political sociology conceptualizing populism as a discursive register or rhetorical style as argued by Ernesto Laclau (2005; 2011) or as a structure of feeling (as argued by Raymond Williams 1977). Therefore, populism is seen as a recurrent pattern transcending historical particularities. According to Laclau’s theory of “the empty signifier,” populism can be driven by left or right politics. I then looked into Seymour M. Lipset’s research where he uses the authoritarian personality syndrome, detailed in the social-psychology survey analysis of Theodor Adorno and Ellen Frenkel-Brunswick (1950), which he conceptualizes as working-class authoritarianism, showing how “the people” act in reactionary rather than in revolutionary ways. By the 1980s, Stuart Hall presents a cultural studies approach, widening Lipset’s hypothesis beyond the proletarian collective subject where he conceptualizes an authoritarian populism that supports yet transcends both neoliberalism and neo-conservatism.