A qualitative study on the social representations of populism and democracy in Peru

Agustin Espinosa, Erika Janos, Manuel Pacheco, Renzo Cisneros, Fiorella Cueva, Renato De Las Casas De La Lama, Chrystian Noe De La Cruz Bellido, Camila Grados, Carla Huapaya, Sebastián Mercado, Danika Palacios, Jackeline Elena Reyes, Eleonora Salazar, Mikel Silva, Kelly Patricia Villa, Angela Vera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze the social representations of democracy, populism and the relationship between both concepts in a sample of citizens from different regions of Peru (n = 76). To this end, a qualitative research design was proposed, using in-depth interviews, which were analyzed from a discursive approach. The results show that democracy and populism are two closely related concepts in tension. On the one hand, the social representation of democracy is semantically poor, closely related to electoral behavior and is seen as a political system that, ideally, is positively valued. Populism, on the other hand, is seen as a political strategy based on the manipulation of citizens' needs in order to reach power using the democratic process of elections. The representation of populism in general is negative, and it is mentioned that it appears and acquires strength in the face of citizen dissatisfaction with democracy, when it cannot solve problems of poverty, corruption or exclusion. The representations of populism take up the constitutive components proposed by different authors on the topic (people, elites and democracy as a product of popular will), but the participants do not necessarily structure the relationships between these components as proposed in the academic literature. Finally, the results shows that respondents' experiences with democracy and populism in Peru act as important socializing forces that will frame how citizens relate to politics and the public.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1306060
JournalFrontiers in Political Science
StatePublished - 2024


  • democracy
  • ideology
  • political dissatisfaction
  • political strategy
  • populism
  • social representations


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