Populism and Connectivism: An Analysis of the Sanders and Trump Nomination Campaigns

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10 Citations (Scopus)


This paper is an analysis of the Trump and Sanders’ campaigns for the presidential nomination of their respective parties. It studies the structure of the relationship between the campaign and its supporters through communication on each candidate’s Facebook page. While both campaigns have been termed populist, we differentiate populism from connectivism and develop an account of a connective campaign as a species of connective action. Whereas populism is predicated on a singular people, connectivity involves the acceptance and recognition of difference as a resource for political activity. Whereas populism involves a hierarchical authority relationship, connectivity is based on a reciprocal authority relationship. Finally, populism articulates an anti-establishment demand while connective campaigns demand for citizens to have the capacity for consequential engagement with political life. The empirical results demonstrate that connectivism and populism are distinct in practice and that these attributes hang together as two separate concepts. Further, we find that Trump’s campaign communications emphasize populist themes, for Sanders such themes are limited and in the shadow of connectivism
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-364
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Political Marketing
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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