Symbolic representation in Spanish left populism: an opportunity for feminist politics?

New publication of the group! Paloma Caravantes & Emanuela Lombardo (2022): The symbolic representation of the ‘People’ and the ‘Homeland’ in Spanish left populism: an opportunity for feminist politics?, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, DOI: 10.1080/14782804.2022.2090322

This article analyses the symbolic construction of the ‘people’ and the ‘homeland’ in Spain’s left populist party Podemos by exploring the gender and class meanings that Podemos leaders evoke in their representation of these two key elements of populist rhetoric. Distinguishing between the official symbolic presentation of the constituency, that purposely selects certain symbols to evoke particular meanings about the people and the homeland, and the subtext of gendered norms that symbols evoke, allows us understanding the possibilities of the Spanish left populist party to contribute to feminist politics. Podemos has a role in the process of meaning-making that envisions gender and class-aware societal projects through the symbolic representation of ‘the people’ and ‘the homeland’. Yet, ambivalence in the egalitarian discourse and a symbolic subtext of unequal informal gendered norms in the party culture undermine the feminist commitments of the leadership adopted in the official presentation of the constituency. By capturing the gap between the official purposeful symbolic representation, that conveys a message of inclusive and feminist people-homeland, and the symbolic subtext of the party’s discourse and performance, that reproduces exclusionary gendered norms, the article contributes to reflect on the inclusionary potential and contradictions of left populism.

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