Social movement scholars have thus far failed to give populism its deserved attention and to incorporate it into their field of study. Although sociologists, political scientists, and historians have explored diverse facets of the intersection of populism and social dissent, there has been no concerted effort towards building a comprehensive framework for the study of populist mobilization, despite its growing significance in the past decades. In this article I combine insights from populism studies, social movement scholarship, and social psychology to build a unified framework of analysis for populist social movements. I suggest populism is best understood as a collective action frame employed by movement entrepreneurs to construct a resonant collective identity of “the People” and to challenge elites. I argue that populism depends on the politicization of citizenship, and I apply this framework to the movements of the Great Recession to classify Occupy Wall Street and the European indignados as instances of a populist wave of mobilization, using data from archival material and a set of semistructured interviews with Greek activists.

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