The antinomies of Ernesto Laclau: a reassessment

Arthur Borriello, Anton Jäger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article provides an internal assessment of Ernesto Laclau’s theory of populism. While critiques of Laclau have been made from a variety of traditions, few scholars have sought to work through the contradictions of his thought on internal terms. This article identifies some key antinomies in Laclau’s oeuvre and hints at some redemptive strategies. It starts with a short summary of Laclau’s conception of populism in contextual and conceptual fashion. Subsequently, four possible deficits of Laclau’s theory are examined, ranging from a tension between verticality and horizontality, an ahistorical dimension, a descriptive and normative hyperformalism, and the lack of a reflexive approach to the term ‘populism’ itself. The article finishes with a fresh research agenda for ‘post-Laclauian’ theories of populism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-316
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Political Ideologies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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