Populist Time: Mediating Immediacy and Delay in Liberal Democracy
The conduct of politics is, in part, constructed by conceptions of time, and this happens through an interplay between mechanisms of governance and different media systems and technologies. This article argues that we are witnessing an increasing divergence between the mechanisms of delay built into liberal democracy and a “politics of impatience” that is part of a larger populist communications style. Furthermore, we contend that social media—particularly Twitter—help pave the way for this growing populist impatience, creating what we label “populist time.” In theoretical terms, the article draws on journalism studies, on research on social media and populism, on mediated time, and, finally, on the temporalities of democratic governance. Our contribution is to bring these literatures together in order to posit three distinct building blocks for the formation of populist time, which are part of the communication on Twitter: feelings of “realtimeness,” “unmediation” and “impulsivity.” This article thus aims to suggest conceptual building blocks for more nuanced investigations of how temporal processes and perceptions play into the performance of populism on social media.