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2023 | Buch

Populism and Accountability

Interdisciplinary Researches on Active Citizenship

herausgegeben von: Antonio Maria Baggio, Maria-Gabriella Baldarelli, Samuel O. Idowu

Verlag: Springer International Publishing

Buchreihe : CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance


Über dieses Buch

This book takes into consideration the development of different forms of populism in various countries with democratic political systems over the past two decades. Despite the diversity existing between current populisms, common elements have emerged: the tendency to diminish the role of political representation, the centrality of the "charismatic leader," the nationalistic idealization of "people" that undermine international agreements. How do these phenomena affect the instruments, rules, and culture of democracy? Why does populism receive strong acclaim? How can leaders respond to the real needs that can be at the basis of populisms without abandoning democratic principles?

Using an interdisciplinary approach which emphasizes accountability and responsibility, this book addresses these and other issues facing current and future corporate leaders. The chapters offer suggestions on how to choose between major worthy causes, how to effectively measure the outcomes of social responsible action, and how to navigate the challenges of accountability. Providing practical tools to combat the root of populism in business and community, this book is intended for practitioners, researchers, and students of business and management, politics, and other related disciplines such as public administration, social science, and the humanities.


Chapter 1. Populism and Accountability: Interdisciplinary Researches – An Introduction
Many global citizens of yesteryears and even in today’s twenty-first century existed in political environments where the wishes and concerns of the ordinary citizens were generally ignored by a few established elite groups. Those in government who should be accountable to all were less accountable to the masses. With this in mind, societies were run mainly in the interest of a very few minority. Populism is therefore a political approach which strives to correct this wrong approach to politics and how organisations are run and directed. Populism is an attempt to appeal to ordinary citizens who believe that their concerns are disregarded by those who could have helped to address these concerns, because they are in a position to do so and bring about an egalitarian system of government and consequently an egalitarian society. Accountability on the other hand is one of the requirements and qualities of a good system of governance in today’s business and civil society. It is an obligation to accept responsibility for one’s action either as a public or private sector leader or servant. The absence or lack of accountability erodes confidence in what those at the helm of activities are doing, which makes a mockery of all things done in societal name and interest.
Samuel O. Idowu

Populism and Accountability: Introductory Studies

Chapter 2. Populism and Its Definitions: Interpretations and Perspectives of a Multifaceted Political Model
This chapter deals with some of the many definitions of populism, starting with the first event in which a community of researchers came together for this purpose: the 1967 London Conference ‘To Define Populism’. The text follows the evolution of the central themes to the present day and explores, in particular, the tools produced by populism studies that help to understand two contemporary challenges: first, the emergence of new forms of populism fragmented into antagonistic groups during the SarsCoV2 Pandemic, but linked to broader authoritarian visions, and second, the new reflection on the principle of nationality and international solidarity that arose after the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. Both are challenges to the principles, intelligence and strength of democracies.
This text focuses on two aspects in particular: first, the logic with which to construct definitions, so as to avoid errors of setting (unclear and ill-defined choice of subject to be studied), elaboration (conceptual stretching) and evaluation (researcher bias), and second, the understanding of the different identities with which the ‘people’ presents itself and acts historically: populace, mob, civil society and revolutionary people; they cannot be confused within the same ‘populism’.
Antonio Maria Baggio
Chapter 3. Accountability and Stakeholder Engagement: Politics and Accounting in Dialogue to Improve Democracy
Starting from the following provocation: ‘The potential for authentic social and environmental accountability through organised crowd-sourced participation accessible to all citizens with a stake in a sustainable future is under explored’ (Bebbington et al., 2017: 12). This chapter has the objective of reflecting upon the contribution of accountability through two disciplines, the first of which is politics and the second accounting, to promote emancipatory change and democracy.
Maria-Gabriella Baldarelli

Accountability Versus Populism: Intersections between Politics and Business Economics

Chapter 4. Business Democratic Value at Stake: A Business Ethics Perspective on Embedded Social and Political Responsibility
The present works aims to shed light on the role of business ethics and the social responsibility of business in fueling or combatting populism, as well as in supporting or undermining the quality of democracy. In this vein, it addresses the crisis of representative Western liberal democracy by considering populism the political epiphenomenon of economic inequality and neoliberal cultural individualism. By proposing a multidisciplinary approach – bridging political theory, international economic policy, and business studies – it discusses the classic idea of embeddedness of business in society in order to outline the main issues connected to the crisis of “embedded liberalism” and its political expression, supporting the idea that, while traditional political intermediate bodies and institutions have lost power, business has gained a new social role in representing a mediating institution. Focusing on political CSR, it highlights its limits when facing the issue of the quality of democracy that remains largely unexplored as a relevant factor to be considered when looking at motives for adopting social responsibility practices. Possible paths of research, moving from business ethics theoretical possibilities in understanding the link between business behavior and political values, are therefore proposed. Ultimately the paper argues for democracy to be considered among the intangible values informing business responsible behavior from both a normative and positive point of view.
Rosa Fioravante, Mara Del Baldo
Chapter 5. Property, Responsibility, and the Community: Toward a New Concept of Property
This research intends to verify if the legal institute of property could be combined with the concept of responsibility and accountability. Could property become an instrument to accomplish the needs of the community and to perform the common good?
The traditional model of private property is based on the exclusive power granted to a subject on a good and on the absolute freedom to dispose of it and to use it in his own interest. As elaborated by the nineteenth-century codes, the absoluteness of this paradigm has undergone a temperament through the introduction of public and private limits to the exercise of dominion over an asset, with the aim to guarantee a social function of the property. However, the need to give space to solidarity and cooperation requires to overcome the logic of inclusion–exclusion.
Sergio Barbaro
Chapter 6. Citizens’ Participation in Deliberation Process and Multidimensional Accountability: A Possible Virtuous Relationship
Citizen participation and deliberation need information for people participating (Arnstein 1969). On the other hand, accountability in many cases offers information without asking if it is useful and meaningful for somebody. Without a connection to deliberation, accountability is far from offering a contribution to citizen’s participation. This chapter explores how deliberation and public accountability could be connected in the perspective of enhancing citizens’ participation. Information is seen as the key concept that can bridge deliberation and public accountability, making the latter meaningful (Bovens et al, The Oxford handbook of public accountability. Oxford University Press, 2014).
Giampietro Parolin
Chapter 7. Accounting Systems of Postcommunist Balkan States: Towards Accounting Harmonization?
This chapter is fundamentally designed to provide inputs toward investigation of accounting change, or non-change, within the countries which are generally accepted as constituting “the Balkan states.”
These countries are Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Kosovo. What these countries have in common is that they are postcommunists. Not all of them are part of the European Union, and practically all the countries have experienced very heavy moments of revolution. In the Balkans their specific brand of language-based nationalism and the role of religion as a crucial cultural dimension have hindered the development of civil societies.
The aim of the present research is a comparative historical investigation on accounting systems and standards of the postcommunist Balkan countries, in order to prove how the evolution of these systems is connected to changes in the socio-economic context and in the cultural tradition.
Stefania Vignini
Chapter 8. The Role of Local Authorities in Opposing Populism Through Social Accountability
Populism is configured, today even more, as an ideology which, based on distorting ways of communication channels, wants to alter the concept of institutional representation and the intermediation function between politicians and community.
Accountability mechanisms can find obstacles when political representatives are indifferent to social reporting duties and when the local community is not involved, therefore limiting its formal right of participation and control. These issues should stimulate change and reform processes aimed at significantly strengthening social communication and reporting tools and the value of representative democracy. The interpretative survey carried out at some local authorities was aimed at assessing how administrators perceive the role of social communication tools and accountability processes to combat populist pressures.
Eleonora Cardillo

The Real and the Illusory People. Ideas and Narratives of Populism

Chapter 9. In Search of the Relationship Between Democracy and Populism from a Multidimensional Perspective. Some Paths: Accountability, Deliberation and Co-governance
The aim of this chapter is not to work on a better definition of populism, although it is a complex term that needs to be explored in depth, but to use the approach of political science to focus on the qualitative features of democratic systems, in order to review the relationship between populism and contemporary democracy. Is it possible to interpret populism as an expression and vector of transformation of the representative model of democracy? And if so, with what consequences? We will rely on some international reports that monitor and evaluate the quality of democratic systems and introduce to a possible connection between the populist phenomenon and the decline of some established indicators of the democratic framework in recent years. What we are asking is whether the fundamental questions that populism poses to contemporary democracies, and in particular to representation, leadership and citizenship, can contribute to understanding some of the main criticalities of current democratic structures, in terms of accountability, deliberation and co-governance. Even within the framework of an urgent updating of the often exhausted democratic forms, the way forward seems to be that of strengthening social ties. There are no formal solutions and abstract procedures that can replace the power of social cohesion that political action must prioritise.
Daniela Ropelato
Chapter 10. Sense of Belonging and Disillusionment: A Phenomenological Reading of Community Dynamics
In the cultural framework in which we are currently moving, in Europe and beyond, we experience an ever more generalized sense of uncertainty and disillusionment towards common living. The extremely individualistic culture of ‘do-it-yourself’ and ‘everything-is-possible’ has certainly contributed to this by investing the individual with decision-making powers linked mostly to the emotion of the moment, in private as well as public life, indeed, cancelling the boundaries between public and private. The role of emotions in private daily choices as well as in community and national interest choices has therefore become central, going, however, to the detriment of responsible action and a culture of the common good.
The emergence of some radicalizing tendencies such as populisms draws attention precisely to the leverage plans that today move the common ‘feeling’ between a sense of belonging to an entity superior to the individual and constituting the community that each human being needs to live and flourish, and disillusionment with it, especially on a social level. Starting from these reflections, we develop a phenomenological analysis of the community and people’s dynamics within it. In this regard, the reflections of some phenomenologists including Stein, Walther and Scheler can offer us a framework, within which we can try to understand the progress of the aforementioned phenomena and their apparent success. At the same time, we can recover the value of the relationship between people and the contribution of the individual in support of community forms of coexistence based on a sense of mutual responsibility.
Valentina Gaudiano
Chapter 11. Accountability and Populism: An Anthropological Perspective
This chapter aims to investigate the relationship between accountability and populism from a processual and integrated perspective. Populism is understood here as a culturally defined idiom for political action and debate that postulates, as a fundamental value, the primacy of people over political control. It will be shown how accountability, interpreted not as a mere governance tool but as a form of relationship based on control, can become a comparative category. This approach makes it possible to think of accountability as a process that integrates political and ethical dimensions. The comparativeness will thus make it possible to understand accountability’s specific features in the various contexts, even when these may not be immediately evident, thanks to the comparison between experience-near and experience-distant accountability. The distinction between the two will be thoroughly explained when providing the theoretical and anthropological backdrop to the analysis. Accountability raised in Anglo-Saxon contexts over the years seems to cross the boundaries of its accounting genealogy to become part of global history and will therefore be read as a particular accountability among various forms of the phenomenon.
Feliciano Tosetto

Leaders and Masses in Populist Phenomena

Chapter 12. Populism and Political Leadership
This chapter addresses both populist leaders and political leadership as an interactive process.
As for populist leaders, the first part of the chapter explores some features common to most of them: they tend to exert a personalistic authority and seek government power, and their relationship with followers is direct, unmediated and uninstitutionalised.
The second part of the chapter deals with political leadership, which we define, in liberal democracies, as a series of processes of mutual influence – involving mainly citizens and elected officials – aimed at pursuing the common good. Considering populism, with Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser, as both friend and foe to democracy, we describe how it interacts with these processes, in positive and negative ways. Positive, since, for instance, populism can mobilise excluded sectors of society and improve the responsiveness of the political system as well as democratic accountability. And negative, since the populist logic of identity is at odds with the democratic idea of representation, populist parties may well be responsive to the short-term demands of public opinion but feel unconstrained by responsibility, and populists tend to reject the rule of law and the constitutional checks and balances.
Paolo Giusta
Chapter 13. The Psychological Roots of Populism
“Populism is not an inevitable natural disaster but the result of political choices made by identifiable individuals who ultimately can be held accountable for these choices” (Lewandowsky, Why is populism popular? A psychologist explains. The conversation, 21st June 2016. https://​theconversation.​com/​why-is-populism-popular-a-psychologist-explains-61319, 2016).
I start quoting Lewandowsky, to emphasize some elements that I will deal with in this chapter. Populism is the result of political choices, that is, behaviors acted by identified individuals. It implies an accountability, both political and personal.
Populism does not generate from itself; populism is cultivated. To cultivate it, it is necessary to prepare the ground, spread the seeds of diversity and suspicion, and sink the roots in the deepest needs of the human being: identity, recognition, safety, and belongingness.
Populism is built by relying on universal psychic dynamics well known in the social sciences. Specifically, it responds to specific universal needs and performs functions that are important to people. Hence, counteracting it is not possible without considering its underlying factors. Alternatives to populism are more likely to succeed if they address more effectively the needs of people and communities.
Populism is a mass phenomenon or, at least, one that aspires to be such. However, populism is not driven by the mass; it is carried forward through the mass. I will start from here – the indistinct mass to which one must give form and direction – to analyze the rise of populism from a social psychological perspective.
Populism is not only a mass phenomenon, and the movement of the masses is not the prerogative of populist parties. However, the psychology of the masses helps to understand some aspects of the origin and development of populism, as well as its neutralization.
Two main levels exist from which to observe the phenomenon: the group level, concerning the masses and complex social processes, and the individual level that involves needs, personality characteristics, motivations, and attitudes. Distinguished for the sake of exposition, the two levels are intertwined and welded in populism, which contributes to the complexity of the phenomenon and shatters its apparent banality.
Antonella Deponte
Chapter 14. The Populist Leader: A Profile That Emerged from the Investigation Perspective of Phenomenological Psychopathology
Background: Numerous studies in political psychology have tried to provide a clear demarcation between the profiles of leaders belonging to traditional parties and those belonging to populist parties. Currently, however, the question linked to recognizing the phenomenologically relevant characteristics of the populist leader still appears unsolved.
Objective: The present study aims at bringing out the essential peculiarities of populist leaders, using the method of investigation proposed by phenomenological psychopathology.
Methods: The research was oriented to apply an epochè aimed at revealing the characteristics of the populist leader from a first-person perspective. The study focused on how the intentionality of consciousness of the populist leader is expressed and on how to explore the way of being-in-the-world of the populist leader through the exploration of existentials, that is, the essential structures that constitute the condition of every experience.
Results: By applying the method proposed by phenomenological psychopathology, the results showed that it is possible to bring out a profile of the populist leader. In this regard, the populist leader seems to live in a “manic” temporal dimension, in which there is no space for slow maturation because everything seems to have been lived quickly, hoping a soon reaching new Enlightenment. The space is lived so that the distance between the world of politics and that of the ordinary citizen is reduced. The populist leader seems to outline a scenario in which even the most difficult projects, which would foresee a macro-social change, are within reach. The lived body by the populist leader is characterized by being “on edge”: a dysphoric mood prevails, and the emotional picture is predominantly characterized by feelings of anger and aggression. Finally, alterity is split by the populist leader mainly into two subgroups: one in which the profile of the ordinary citizen is idealized and the other in which all those who should be part of an élite far from safeguarding the interests of the people are denigrated.
Conclusions: The present study has highlighted that the method of investigation proposed by phenomenological psychopathology can clarify the fundamental characteristics concerning the style of the populist leader.
Fabio Frisone
Populism and Accountability
herausgegeben von
Antonio Maria Baggio
Maria-Gabriella Baldarelli
Samuel O. Idowu
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