What is Populism?


  • Lea-Catherine Szacka University of Manchester
  • Salomon Frausto




The editorial introduction to this issue of Footprint questions the complex concept of populism, explaining how, in recent debates, it has more and more often been related to architectural issues.  Partly based on the analysis of political philosopher and historian Jan-Werner Müller, our understanding of the term reaches to both ends of the political spectrum.  Yet rather than simply aiming to provide a clear definition of populism, this editorial sheds more light on a debated concept, showing its multi-facetted aspects in relation to space and aesthetics. Through the categories of media, politics and aesthetics, this introduction also shows the logical progression between the different pieces included in the issue. Acknowledging the complex nature of the word populism is essential for the understanding of the variety of takes included in this issue.


Moore, Rowan. ‘Is Far-Right Ideology Twisting the Concept of “Heritage” in German Architecture?’, The Observer, 6 October 2018.

Müller, Jan-Werner. What is Populism? (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).

Polman, Bart-Jan. ‘A Masochistic Heresy’, The Avery Review 40 (May 2019),

van den Heuvel, Dirk and Tahl Kaminer, 'Defying the Avant-Garde Logic: Architecture, Populism, and Mass Culture', Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal, issue 8 Defying the Avant-Garde Logic: Architecture, Populism, and Mass Culture, Spring 2011, 1-6.