Jellen Olivares-Jirsell

Research project: Is the amalgamation of populist and neoliberal ideologies correlated to not aggregate but cumulative detrimental levels of trust towards welfare states?


Trust plays a vital role in democracy, impacting social dilemmas, policy acceptance, and decision-maker's willingness to propose bold policies. However, a growing distrust towards the state and global institutions is fuelled by anti-establishment sentiments. Populist and neoliberal ideologies contribute to this distrust, combining cultural and economic considerations and convincing citizens that the state is the problem rather than the solution. The coexistence of pervasive anti-establishment sentiments and the need for state interventions presents a challenge for liberal democracies in resolving social dilemmas, such as wealth redistribution in welfare states.

This project seeks to address this challenge by examining the correlation between the amalgamation of populist and neoliberal ideologies and the erosion of trust in welfare states. Previous research has shown that these ideologies are compatible and mutually reinforcing. This project seeks to find out if the coexistence of these ideologies may catalyse the loss of trust, contributing to anti-establishment sentiments by portraying the state as corrupt or burdensome. By focusing on their combined effects, this project aims to fill a gap in academic literature regarding the cumulative impact of these ideologies on public perceptions of state trustworthiness and wealth distribution.

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: Is the amalgamation of populist and neoliberal ideologies correlated to not aggregate but cumulative detrimental levels of trust towards welfare states?
  • Other research supervisor: Dr Simon Choat


As a Politics PhD candidate at Kingston University London, my work explores the intricate relationship between neoliberalism and populism, funded by a Kingston University Studentship.

With a multidisciplinary and international academic background, I bring a profound understanding of global affairs and normative transfers. Before pursuing my PhD, I enjoyed a successful career in the public sector, coordinating complex projects in supported housing. Currently, in my academic pursuits, I have actively engaged in research projects at Malmo University (Sweden), Technical University of Munich (Germany), and Swansea University (Wales). Scholarly contributions include publications in Global Affairs and Populism journals.

My research interests encompass politics, ideology, and societal dynamics, with a focus on populism, neoliberalism, welfare states, trust, liberalism, and polarisation—areas of significant implications for understanding contemporary political landscapes and societal challenges.

Areas of research interest

  • Populism
  • Mainstreamed Populism / Electoral Populism / Populist Zeitgeist / Populism as a Pathological Normalcy
  • Neoliberalism
  • Welfare States
  • Welfare Chauvinism
  • Trust
  • Liberalism
  • Liberal Democracies
  • Right-Wing Populism / The Far-Right / The Radical Right
  • Polarisation


  • MA in Global Politics, Malmö University, Sweden
  • MA in Humanitarianism and Conflict Response, University of Manchester, England
  • BA in International Relations, Universidad del Norte, Colombia

Funding or awards received

  • Kingston University Studentship


  • Olivares-Jirsell, J. (2023). The Trust Lab. Does Trust Matter?. [Online] Available at:

  • Olivares-Jirsell, J., and Hellström, A. (2023). Activities and Counterstrategies; Populism during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Populism (published online ahead of print 2023), DOI: 10.1163/25888072-bja10050. URL:

  • Olivares-Jirsell, J (2021) The global rise of populism: performance, political style, and representation, Global Affairs, 7:1, 88-90, DOI: 10.1080/23340460.2021.1918015. URL:

  • Olivares-Jirsell, J (2021) Democracy Against Liberalism, Global Affairs, 7:3, 419-421, DOI: 10.1080/23340460.2021.1979420.URL: