Platforming Populism: The Services Transition, Precarious Urbanization, and Digital Platforms in the Rise of Illiberal Populism in the Philippines

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Existing research on the adverse impact of digital platforms on democratic politics has generally focussed on supply side factors underlying illiberal populism. Yet by reinforcing a services-led growth model of capitalism in the developing world, the platform economy has also been implicated on the demand-side of the global populist upsurge by fostering new insecure classes as well as precarious urbanisation patterns. Through a case study of the rise of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines' 2016 elections, we show how our theoretical argument has unfolded in one of the most well-known cases of illiberal populism within the Global South. Even while waging unprecedented disinformation campaigns on social media, the political opportunity structure underlying Duterte's electoral victory in 2016 was fostered by the growth of 'rising yet insecure' classes linked to the Philippines' services and platform economy, as well as the socio-spatial legacies of the country's experience of premature deindustrialisation.