Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences


Political Science and Law

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Ian J Drake

Committee Member

Brigid Callahan Harrison

Committee Member

Jack Baldwin-LeClair


The concept of populism is ubiquitous in the international arena. Whether in Brexit, the surge of nationalism in display across the international system, or Donald Trump's presidency, populism is a mainstay of modern social, political, and economic systems. Although it’s historical and conceptual aspects are instructive, populism's most defining elements are revealed in its socioeconomic aspects. This is represented in a politicalcultural model, which considers its conceptual imperatives based on the ideological approach to defining populism, and a refinement of this model that relies upon the prevalence of economic factors and cultural factors. The purpose of this research is to review the historical origins of populism in the United States, the conceptual approaches to defining it, and use an applied theory approach to reconcile the political-cultural model with ideological conceptions of populism. The salience of these features is then substantiated as it is applied to competing views regarding the United States' Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. A review of this primary document reveals its implications for the public’s perception of the United States’ government. Thus, this research relies on applied theory, historical review, and primary document analysis to reconcile approaches with addressing populism in the United States, and the world at large. It takes an interdisciplinary approach through the lends of political science, economics, and sociology to contribute to methods for addressing populism.