Associate Professor Benjamin Moffitt
Associate Professor in Politics & DECRA Fellow
National School of Arts and Humanities
Areas of expertise: populism; democratic theory; contemporary political theory; comparative politics; political communications; political representation; visual politics
HDR Supervisor accreditation status: Full
ORCID ID: 0000-0003-1843-6032
Phone: +61 3 9230 8597
Location: ACU Melbourne Campus
Benjamin Moffitt is Associate Professor of Politics and Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow at the National School of Arts and Humanities, ACU (Melbourne). His research is located at the intersection of comparative politics, contemporary political theory and political communications, and focuses on contemporary populism across the globe.
Benjamin joined ACU in 2018. Prior to this, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Uppsala University and Stockholm University, Sweden. He received his PhD from the University of Sydney in 2014, and his BA (Hons) from the University of Wollongong. He has been a visiting researcher at the WZB (Berlin Social Science Centre) and University of Toronto, and is an associate of the Sydney Democracy Network and Uppsala University's Department of Government.
Benjamin is the author of three books on populism: 'Populism' (Polity, 2020), 'Political Meritocracy and Populism: Curse or Cure?' (with Mark Chou & Octavia Bryant, Routledge, 2020), and 'The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style and Representation' (Stanford University Press, 2016), and the editor of ‘Populism in Global Perspective: A Performative and Discursive Approach’ (with Pierre Ostiguy and Francisco Panizza). He has also authored numerous articles and chapters on populism in Australia, New Zealand, Western Europe and the United States, as well as the theoretical and media-communicative dimensions of populism. These have appeared in journals including Political Studies and The International Journal of Press/Politics, and in collections such as The Oxford Handbook of Populism.
Benjamin is currently working on two major projects. The first, funded by the Australian Research Council (2019-2023), is entitled 'The Visual Politics of Populism', and comparatively examines how populists use visual media and how visual media covers populists across the globe. It aims to develop a broader theoretical understanding of the linkages between populism, aesthetics and democracy.
The second, funded by the MM Wallenberg Foundation (2019-2022), is entitled 'Democratic Self-Defense: The Social Model', and is a collaboration with former colleagues at Uppsala University, Sofia Näsström, Paula Blomqvist and Anthoula Malkopoulou. This project examines how democracy can be defended in times of political discontent and democratic instability, with a particular focus on the role of social integration and welfare as opposed to militant or liberal approaches.
Benjamin is also a frequent commentator in the Australian and international press, and his work has appeared in outlets such as The Economist, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post and The Guardian. In 2018, Benjamin was named one of ABC's inaugural Top 5 researchers in Humanities and the Social Sciences in Australia.
- Moffitt, B. (2020) Populism. (Key Concepts in Political Theory). Cambridge: Polity. Turkish translation (trans: Yasin Öner) published by Liberus and Spanish translation (trans: Elena Odriozola) with Siglo XXI Editores in 2022. Reviewed in CHOICE, Partecipazione & Conflitto, Populism
- Chou, M., Moffitt, B. & Bryant, O. (2020) Political Meritocracy and Populism: Cure or Curse? Abingdon: Routledge.
- Moffitt, B. (2016) The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style and Representation. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Turkish translation (trans: Onur Özgür) published by İletişim in 2020; Spanish translation forthcoming with Prometeo Libros; Arabic translation forthcoming with National Center for Translation, Cairo
Ostiguy, P., Panizza, F. & Moffitt, B. (eds.) (2021) Populism in Global Perspective: A Performative and Discursive Approach. Abingdon: Routledge.
Peer-reviewed journal articles
- Moffitt, B. (2022) ‘How Do Populists Visually Represent ‘The People’? A Systematic Comparative Visual Content Analysis of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders’ Instagram’, International Journal of Press/Politics, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/19401612221100418
- Chou, M., Moffitt, B. & Busbridge, R. (2022) ‘The Localist Turn in Populism Studies’, Swiss Political Science Review, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 129-141
- Moffitt, B. (2021) ‘How Do Mainstream Parties ‘Become’ Mainstream, and Pariah Parties ‘Become’ Pariahs? Conceptualising the Processes of Mainstreaming and Pariahing in the Labelling of Political Parties’, Government and Opposition, https://doi.org/10.1017/gov.2021.5
- Kefford, G., Moffitt, B. & Werner, A. ‘Populist Attitudes: Bringing Together Ideational and Communicative Approaches’ (2021) Political Studies, https://doi.org/10.1177/0032321721997741
- Busbridge, R., Moffitt, B. & Thorburn, J. (2020) 'Cultural Marxism: Far-right conspiracy theory in Australia’s culture wars', Social Identities, doi: 10.1080/13504630.2020.1787822.
- De Cleen, B., Moffitt, B., Panayotu, P. & Stavrakakis, Y. (2020) 'The Potentials and Difficulties of Transnational Populism: the Case of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25)' Political Studies, vol. 68, no. 1, pp. 146-166.
- Moffitt, B. (2018) 'The Populism/Anti-Populism Divide in Western Europe', Democratic Theory, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 1-16.
- Moffitt, B. (2017) 'Liberal Illiberalism? The Reshaping of the Contemporary Populist Radical Right in Northern Europe', Politics and Governance, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 112-122.
- Moffitt, B. (2017) 'Transnational Populism? Representative Claims, Media and the Difficulty of Constructing a Transnational 'People", Javnost: The Public, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 409-425.
- Moffitt, B. (2015) 'How to Perform Crisis: A Model for Understanding the Key Role of Crisis in Contemporary Populism', Government and Opposition, vol. 50, no. 2, pp. 189-217.
- Moffitt, B. & Tormey, S. (2014) 'Rethinking Populism: Politics, Mediatisation and Political Style', Political Studies, vol. 62, no. 2, pp. 381-397 (runner-up for 2014 UK Political Science Association Harrison Prize, Chinese translation published in Foreign Theoretical Trends, 2016, No. 10, pp. 27-38).
- Snow, D. & Moffitt, B. (2012) 'Straddling the Divide: Mainstream Populism and Conservatism in Howard's Australia and Harper's Canada', Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 271-292.
- Moffitt, B. (forthcoming) ‘Types of Populism’ in Manucci, L. (ed.) The Populism Interviews: A Dialogue With Leading Experts. Abingdon: Routledge.
- Ostiguy, P., Panizza, F. & Moffitt, B. (2021) ‘Introduction’ in Ostiguy, P., Panizza, F. & Moffitt, B. (eds.) Populism in Global Perspective: A Performative and Discursive Approach. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 1- 18.
- Ostiguy, P. & Moffitt, B. (2021) ‘Who Would Identify with an ‘Empty Signifier’? The Relational, Performative Approach to Populism’ in Ostiguy, P., Panizza, F. & Moffitt, B. (eds.) Populism in Global Perspective: A Performative and Discursive Approach. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 47-72.
- Ostiguy, P., Panizza, F. & Moffitt, B. (2021) ‘Conclusions: Reflections on the Lessons Learned’ in Ostiguy, P., Panizza, F. & Moffitt, B. (eds.) Populism in Global Perspective: A Performative and Discursive Approach. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 255-274.
- Moffitt, B. (2019) 'Populism & Media in Western Europe' in de la Torre, C. (ed.) The Routledge International Handbook of Global Populism. London & New York: Routledge, pp. 235-248.
- Moffitt, B. (2018) 'Populism 2.0, Social Media and the False Allure of 'Unmediated' Representation' in Mackert, J, Turner, B.S. & Fitzi, G. (eds.) Populism and the Crisis of Democracy, vol. 2. London & New York: Routledge, pp. 30-46.
- Moffitt, B. (2019) 'Populism versus Technocracy: Performance, Passion & Aesthetics' in Cossarini, P. & Vallespin Ona, F. (eds.) Populism and Passions: Democratic Legitimacy After Austerity. London & New York: Routledge, pp. 49-64.
- Moffitt, B. (2017) 'Populism in Australia and New Zealand' in Rovira Kaltwasser, C., Taggart, P., Ochoa Espejo, P. & Ostiguy, P. (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Populism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 121-139.
- Moffitt, B. (2015) 'Contemporary Populism and 'The People' in the Asia-Pacific: Thaksin Shinawatra and Pauline Hanson' in de la Torre, C. (ed.) The Promise and Perils of Populism: Global Perspectives. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, pp. 293-316.
- 2019-2022 DECRA (Discovery Early Career Researcher Award) (AU$379,000)
Project title: ‘The Visual Politics of Populism’ (sole investigator). Funded by the Australian Research Council
- 2019-2022 Wallenberg Foundation Project Grant (4.2 million SEK – AU$647,000)
Project title: ‘Democratic Self-Defense: The Social Model’ (CI)
With Sofia Näsström (PI), Paula Blomqvist (CI) and Anthoula Malkopoulou (CI), Uppsala University, Sweden. Funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation
Accolades and awards
- 2018 Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) Top 5 in Humanities and Social Science - Named as one of Australia’s Top 5 young researchers in HASS. I undertook a 2-week media residency in Sydney with ABC in September.
- 2014 Harrison Prize runner-up - UK Political Science Association. Awarded to best paper published each year in Political Studies.
- 2011 Postgraduate Teaching Fellowship - Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of Sydney. Awarded to postgraduate research students who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and research.
- 2011 Visiting Fellow Scholarship - Funded by the Institute for Democracy & Human Rights, University of Sydney for travel and costs for a visiting fellow at the WZB (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin – Social Science Research Centre, Berlin)
- 2010 - 2013 Australian Postgraduate Award - Funded by the Australian Government
- 2010 - 2013 University of Sydney Merit Award - Funded by the University of Sydney – top-up to Australian Postgraduate Award for outstanding PhD researchers
- 2010 Best Postgraduate Conference Paper - Australian Political Science Association Conference, Melbourne, 27-29 September
- 2008 University Medal - Faculty of Arts, University of Wollongong. Awarded to highest achieving graduating Honours student in the Faculty.
- 2008 Chancellor Robert Hope Memorial Prize for academic excellence & community service - University of Wollongong. Awarded to high-achieving graduating students who have demonstrated outstanding academic performance, leadership qualities, and who have exceptionally contributed to the University and wider community.
Appointments and affiliations
- Jan 2021 – present Associate Professor of Politics, National School of Arts, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia
- July 2018 – Dec 2021 Senior Lecturer in Politics, National School of Arts, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia
- Feb 2017 – Jun 2018 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Government, Uppsala University, Sweden
- Aug 2016 – Jan 2017 Lecturer (Adjunct), Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, Sweden
- Oct 2013 – Aug 2016 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, Sweden
- Editorial Board Member, Journal of Language and Politics
- Editorial Board Member, Populism
- Editorial Board Member, Democratic Theory
- Editorial Board Member, Global Populisms book series, Brill Publishing
- Committee member, Steering Committee for Melbourne Political, Social and Legal Theory Network
International journal review panel
Oxford University Press*; University of Chicago Press; Edinburgh University Press; European Consortium of Political Research (ECPR) Press; and Routledge.
American Political Science Review; British Journal of Political Science; Political Studies*; Perspectives on Politics; Government and Opposition*; Environmental Politics; International Journal of Communication; Nature Human Behavior; Australian Journal of Political Science*; Social Science & Medicine; Visual Studies; International Studies Review; Review of International Studies; Acta Politica; Palgrave Communications; Canadian Journal of Political Science; Journal of Political Ideologies*; Sociological Perspectives; South European Society & Politics; Parliamentary Affairs; Philosophy East & West; Journal of Information Technology & Politics; Scandinavian Political Studies*; Journal for the Study of Radicalism; German Politics; Australian Journal of Politics & History; Democratic Theory; Journal of Political Power; Iperstoria Political Science; and Quality & Quantity (* indicates multiple reviews)
Grant agency review panel
- Israel Science Foundation
- EUTOPIA Science and Innovation Post Doctoral Program
- Fund for Scientific Research (FRNS), Belgium
- Australian Research Council
- National Science Centre, Poland
- European Research Council
- Research Foundation – Flanders
- Fulbright Commission (Czech Republic)
- Czech Science Foundation
- ‘Minor parties on the right’ (interview with Ben Raue), The Tally Room podcast, 3 May 2022.
- ‘Populism in the 2022 federal election’ (interview with Thomas Oriti), ABC News Radio.
- ‘Populism and the federal election: what can we expect from Hanson, Palmer, Lambie and Katter?’, The Conversation, 12 April 2022.
- ‘Clive Palmer's UAP is spending big in the upcoming federal election. Here's what we learned about its candidates’ (interview with Ariel Bogle), ABC News, 25 February 2022.
- ‘Parliament Protests’ (interview with Ariel Bogle), 7:30, ABC, 16 February 2022.
- ‘Derrota de Trump golpea al populismo en el mundo, pero no de formal letal’ (interview with Alberto Millan), El Mecurio, 7 December 2020, p. A5.
- ‘La derrota de Trump inicia el fin del populismo’ (interview with Fernando Fuentes), La Tercera, 21 November 2020.
- ‘Think Joe Biden's victory marks the end of rightwing populism? Think again’, The Guardian, 18 November 2020.
- ‘Populism is Undefeated’ (interview with Yasmeen Serhan), The Atlantic, 6 November 2020.
- ‘Populists Without Borders’ (interview with Luca Manucci), Political Observer on Populism, 29 June 2020.
- ‘A Virus to Kill Populism, or Make It Stronger’ (interview with Marc Champion), Bloomberg, 27 March 2020.
- ‘Populism is Meaningless’ (interview with Yasmeen Serhan), The Atlantic, 14 March 2020.
- ‘The Trouble With Anti-Populism: Why the Champions of Civility Keep Losing’, The Guardian Long Read, 14 February 2020.
- ‘What is Populism?’ (interview with Alice Golds), 3CR Monday Breakfast, 5 August 2019.
- ‘Boris Johnson and the Global Rise of Populism’ (televised interview with Josh Szeps), ABC News Weekend Breakfast, 28 July 2019.
- ‘British Trump’: The rise of Boris Johnson and what it means for the rest of the world’ (interview with Cait Kelly), The New Daily, 27 July 2019.
- ‘Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Global Rise of Populism’ (interview with Sandra Moon), ABC Radio Goulburn-Murray, 25 July 2019.
- ‘Is Boris Johnson a Populist?’ (interview with Paul Turton), ABC Radio Newcastle, 24 July 2019.
- ‘As the Populist Moment for the Left Closes, Odds Look Grim for DiEM25’s Transnational Populism’ (with Benjamin de Cleen, Panos Panayotu and Yannis Stavrakakis), Centre for Global Cooperation Research blog, 11 July 2019.
- ‘The Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25) and the Limitations of Transnational Populism’ (with Benjamin de Cleen, Panos Panayotu and Yannis Stavrakakis), Democratic Audit UK, 3 July 2019.
- ‘Transnational Populism? The Case of DiEM25’ (with Benjamin de Cleen, Panos Panayotu and Yannis Stavrakakis), UK Political Studies Association Blog, 23 May 2019.
- ‘The Teleprompter Test: Why Trump’s populism is not his own’ (interview with Paul Lewis), The Guardian, 6 March 2019.
- ‘False necessities: Is it time to leave two-party politics behind?’ (interview with Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens), The Minefield, ABC Radio National, 27 February 2019.
- ‘What actually is populism? And why does it have a bad reputation?’ (with Octavia Bryant), The Conversation, 6 February 2019.
- ‘Bolsonaro In, Merkel Out and Populism on the March’ (interview with Luke March), Wake With Luke Vargas, TalkMediaNews, 2 November 2018.
- '"Words of hate are not welcome": Pittsburgh survivors condemn political rhetoric’ (interview with Nick Grimm), ABC PM, 29 October 2018.
- ‘Populists are winning the social media war – aren’t they?’, ABC News, 19 October 2018.
- ‘From Donald Trump to Pauline Hanson: populism, explained’, ABC News, 18 October 2018.
- ‘What is populism, and what does the term actually mean?’ (interview with David Molloy), BBC News, 6 March 2018.
- ‘Fortsetter kampen fra utsiden av Det hvite hus’ (’The March Continues Outside the White House’), interview with Kenneth Lund), 21 August 2017.
- ‘Eliten spanar efter populism i vilset Visby’ (‘The Elite Scout for Populism in Disorientated Visby’), interview with Karin Eriksson), Dagens Nyheter, 5 July 2017.
- ‘Appello alla ribellione contro l’élite malvagia, maleducazione come stile politico, tentativo di provocare crisi e paure: sono le tre caratteristiche fondamentali dell’ondata populista che cresce nel mondo’ (Populism: appeal to ‘the people’ versus ‘the elite’; bad manners; and the performance of crisis, breakdown or threat’), Robinson 16 (cultural liftout), La Repubblica, 19 March 2017, p. 10.
- ‘What is Populism, Really?’ (podcast interview with Julie Rose), BYU Top of Mind with Julie Rose, 13 March 2017.
- ‘Populism, Asian-Style’ (interview with Luca Manucci), Political Observer on Populism, 18 January 2017.
- ‘Låt oss sluta låtsas att Trump är Hitler’ (‘Let’s Stop Pretending That Trump is Hitler’), Metro, 11 October 2016, p. 4.
- ‘Trump ger Europas populister näring’ (‘Trump gives Europe’s populists fuel’), (interview with Lars Larsson) Aftonbladet, 10 November 2016.
- ‘Trump skapade splittring – nu vill han prata enighet’ (‘Trump created division – now he wants to talk unity’), (interview with Anna H. Svensson), SVT (Swedish Television), 10 November 2016.
- ‘Trump – en klassisk populist’ (‘Trump – a classic populist’), (interview with Dan Lucas), Dagens Nyheter, 10 November 2016.
- ‘Populism and democracy: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?’, The Huffington Post, 2 November 2016.
- ‘Of course Donald Trump goes low. That’s the populists’ winning style’ (with Pierre Ostiguy), The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, 20 October 2106.
- ‘Populismo vive metamorfose na América Latina' ('Populism undergoes a metamorphosis in Latin America'), (interview with Fernanda Simas), O Estado de São Paulo, 18 September 2016.
- ‘Cenário: definição do conceito de populismo é controvertida entre especialistas' ('Scenario: the definition of populism is controversial amongst experts'), (interview with Fernanda Simas), O Estado de São Paulo, 18 September 2016.
- ‘The far-right’ (radio interview), Rear Vision, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 11 September 2016.
- ‘Face the facts: populism is here to stay’, The Conversation, 29 August 2016.
- ‘The Populists Are Revolting’, The Mark News, 18 July 2016.
- Interview on NewsDay, BBC World Service (on the global rise of populism), 28 June 2016.
- ‘Populismen – här för att stanna?’ (‘Populism – here to stay?’), (interview with Mattias Machs), Svenska Dagbladets, 10 June 2016 (appeared in 45 other Swedish newspapers including Göteborgs-Posten and Aftonbladet),
- ‘Why are we surprised by every populist politician? Voting for them can be a rational choice’ (interview with Jason Wilson), The Guardian, 13 May 2016.
- ‘Populism and democracy: friend or foe? Rising stars deepen dilemma’, The Conversation, 23 April 2015.
- ‘Hanson wants your votes (again) – please explain?’, ABC: The Drum, 5 June 2013.
- ‘Berlusconi, Katter and Assange: a very personal party’ (with Duncan McDonnell), The Conversation, 16 April 2013.
- ‘The legacy of Hugo Chávez and his politics of popularity’, ABC: The Drum, 6 March 2013.
- ‘The good, the bad and the ugly: Hugo Chávez and the international left’, The Conversation, 6 March 2013.
- Interview on NewsDay, Sky News (on Geert Wilder’s visit to Australia), conducted by Ashley Gillon, 22 February 2013.
- ‘Who’s afraid of Geert Wilders? Populism and the Politics of Hate’, The Conversation, 21 February 2013
- Interview on Radio Adelaide (on Australian nationalism), conducted by Angus Randall, 24 January 2013.
- ‘Flag is our greatest Australian divide’, The Australian, 23 January 2013 (interviewed for comment).