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Leiden University

1. Bouma, Vincent I. Outsiderism: The Origins of an American Tradition.

Degree: 2016, Leiden University

Electoral competition has been an essential part of acquiring the American presidency since Jackson’s election of 1828. Competition made strategic considerations to ensure the maximization of electoral support increasingly relevant. One phenomenon that traditionally dominated strategic thinking during American elections is ‘Outsiderism’: during campaigns candidates deliberately assume an outsider position in the electoral arena, not on the basis of genuine motivations, but for the categorical purpose of vote-maximization. Despite the fact that Outsiderism has constantly been deployed over the course of history, it has yet to receive scholarly attention. This thesis, therefore, offers an analysis of Outsiderism in the realm of American presidential campaigns. It investigates Outsiderism’s roots in the subsequent campaigns of Jackson and Van Buren through an analysis of their respective campaign biographies. Furthermore, it links Outsiderism to the framework of Rational Choice Theory, which elucidates the rather manipulative motives that induce Outsiderism. Thus, this thesis seeks to clarify to what extent Jackson and Van Buren conformed to Outsiderism during their campaign. Why did they as would-be presidents see the need to present themselves (to a certain extent) as outsiders to American politics? The results suggest that both Jackson and Van Buren as presidential candidates employed Outsiderism, although Jackson to a lesser extent than Van Buren, because they deemed it as advantageous for garnering the required support to get elected. As a result, they have paved the way for a campaign strategy that has remained dominant until today. Advisors/Committee Members: Bilt, Eduard F. van de (advisor).

Subjects/Keywords: Outsiderism; strategy; US elections; Van Buren; Jackson; anti-governmentalism; populism; Rational Choice Theory; campaign

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APA (6th Edition):

Bouma, V. I. (2016). Outsiderism: The Origins of an American Tradition. (Masters Thesis). Leiden University. Retrieved from

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Bouma, Vincent I. “Outsiderism: The Origins of an American Tradition.” 2016. Masters Thesis, Leiden University. Accessed May 22, 2018.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Bouma, Vincent I. “Outsiderism: The Origins of an American Tradition.” 2016. Web. 22 May 2018.


Bouma VI. Outsiderism: The Origins of an American Tradition. [Internet] [Masters thesis]. Leiden University; 2016. [cited 2018 May 22]. Available from:

Council of Science Editors:

Bouma VI. Outsiderism: The Origins of an American Tradition. [Masters Thesis]. Leiden University; 2016. Available from: