Revisiting Latin American Media Democratisation Theories and the Populist Factor

  • Edmundo Bracho-Polanco University of Westminster
Keywords: communication and media theories, media democracy, populism, Latin America


This article deals with the following question: How can Latin American media and communication theories help explain the mediatisation of populism and democracy? The article has a twofold goal: a) it contributes to the study of media, populism and democracy in the context of Latin America; b) it aims to raise awareness outside Latin America about the richness of Latin American media and communication theory for the analysis of the mediation of populism and democracy. The article introduces and engages with a variety of theories from Latin America that deal with globalisation, dependency, cultural imperialism, hybridity, and mediation, and reviews their potentials for explaining the mediatisation of populism and democracy. Theories or models of globalisation, dependency and cultural imperialism, and hybridity and mediation are reviewed analytically, as are some of their core critiques as drawn from various strands of thought, with emphasis on incorporating elements of populism theory. As interest grows in both academia and the media towards the ways in which populism is shaping the social and political spheres in the West, partly encouraged by the recent surge of populist leaders in Europe and the United States, past and current experiences and evaluation of Latin American populism can be constructive in understanding the phenomenon and its implications for communication, media and culture. This study finds that, following political shifts in the twenty-first century, Latin American populism represents a paradigm that is articulated to an important degree through communicative specificities and which can add analytical rigor to competing media and communication theories in the region.