Populism: A puzzle without (and for) world-systems analysis


  • Leslie Gates SUNY-Binghamton




Populism, Political sociology, Latin America, Comparative methodology, Trump, Chávez


This essay shows how world-systems analysis provides a more rigorous explanation for the recent rise of disparate populisms, countering negative stereotypes of mainstream accounts that obscure how formative populist leaders emerged from authentic progressive movements which challenged capitalists. Existing analyses have also failed to specify the varied economic projects of populists, their likely social bases and their relationships to world markets. The essay recommends relational comparisons of populists to unravel populism’s puzzles and advance world-systems analysis.

Author Biography

Leslie Gates, SUNY-Binghamton

Leslie C. Gates (lgates@binghamton.edu) is associate professor of sociology at Binghamton University.  Her research examines business power, the political behavior of economic elites and the political consequences of corporate power and has focused on macro-political change in Latin America. She is the author of Electing Chávez: The Business of Anti-Neoliberal Politics (University of Pittsburgh Press) and articles in journals including Theory and Society and Research in Political Sociology.


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How to Cite

Gates, L. (2018). Populism: A puzzle without (and for) world-systems analysis. Journal of World-Systems Research, 24(2), 325–336. https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2018.849



Symposium: Populisms in the World-System