Publication details

How Populists Construct Public Selves during the COVID-19 Pandemic : A Case Study of the Czech Prime Minister



Year of publication 2023
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal of Constructivist Psychology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Keywords populism; Dialogical Self Theory; COVID-19; political communication
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Description This paper adopts a psychological perspective to analyze the self-presentation of a populist leader in times of a national crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic, examining the narrative he presents to his audience. Using a constructivist approach of the Dialogical Self Theory (DST), we analyze I-positions emergent in speeches by Czech Prime Minister Babis released on his Facebook profile during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings are consistent with existing literature on populist self-presentation, highlighting that the leader constructs himself as being responsive and prototypical, as expected by the Social Identity Approach, and employs a hyper-personal model of online communication. Furthermore, we suggest, based on our results, that it might be useful to extend the DST to analyze how populist politicians relate to the people. In these positions, the politician relates to the out-group as if they were an in-group member or vice versa. This positioning might reflect the underlying worldview of public figures that try to relate to the common people. Overall, our research shows that the DST serves as a useful framework for further research in the area of political populism.
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