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Evidently something like “人気が上がってきた。” can mean “popularity has been rising”, implying an action that has been going for a while rather than an instant change. But I've been seeing a lot of sentences lately without verbs that imply some kind of slow transformation, such as these real examples I all came across today:

  1. “そうやって地位を確立してきた。” -> “That is how he has been establishing his position.”?
  2. “悪役令嬢を演じてはきたけど、…” -> “While it is true that I've been acting like I'm a villainous aristocratic young lady, ...”?
  3. “妖魔退治に人生を注いできた。” -> “I've been pouring my life into exorcism.”?

All of these in context seem to mean this but I can't find anything about this use either so I'm not sure how correct it is and whether it doesn't simply mean something like “Come to have pour my life into exorcism.” or “Came to establish his position.” so can “〜てきた” also be used for something someone has been doing for a considerable time frame?

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Yes, verb + てきた can mean someone has been doing it for a long time. Your translations seem correct. てくる by itself does not indicate there is an observable "change" or "transformation".

てきた basically describes a continuation of some state until now, so it may be hard for an English speaker to distinguish between てきた and ている. The former focuses on the long process or experience in the past, while the latter focuses more on the current or resultant state.

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