Research Prizes

Tim Houwen
PhD dissertation:
Reclaiming Power for the People. Populism in Democracy.

Supervisors: professor E. van der Zweerde, professor P.J.M. van Tongeren
Nomination: Radboud University Nijmegen, Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies

Report of the Selection Committee
It is impossible to imagine present-day politics without the phenomenon of populism. This thesis offers a political-philosophical analysis of the phenomenon. Approaching the subject from a broader context, namely the populist movements in Europe and the rest of the world, the research investigates how populism is linked to representative democracy. Tim Houwen argues that there are two sides to populism. On the one hand, populist politicians and their arguments are seen as a major threat, while on the other people embrace the word ‘populist’ as a badge of pride. The thesis qualifies those extremes, putting them in historical perspective, and succeeds admirably in that endeavour.

Tim Houwen (Sevenum, 1982) studied Political Science at Radboud University Nijmegen and at the University of Agder in Norway, and Philosophy at Radboud University Nijmegen. After his studies he worked as a PhD candidate at the Department of Practical Philosophy at Radboud University Nijmegen. For his doctoral research he spent some months at the Sussex European Institute of the University of Sussex in Brighton. In 2013 he obtained his PhD for a political-philosophical study into populism and the tense relationship between populism and modern representative democracy. Tim Houwen currently works as a study adviser for Philosophy and a lecturer in Practical Philosophy at Radboud University Nijmegen.