Who Thinks, Feels. The Relationship Between Emotions, Politics and Populism


Abstract


There is a tendency both in academia and in popular understandings to posit emotions against rationality and to judge them as an expression of intellectual inferiority. This could not be more evident than in current accounts of populism, which often describe populist supporters as overtaken by passions rather than relying on rational deliberation. However these arguments hardly stand up to scientific scrutiny. As I will show by reviewing the state-of-the-art, advancements in disciplines such as political psychology have now provided systematic evidence of how, contrary to what is traditionally rooted in the public imaginary, emotions and cognition work in concert. If emotionality is an integral part of decision-making and is vital to any type of political engagement, the question we should rather ask is what is peculiar about the relationship between emotions and populism. In the second part of the article, I will explore how the emotional 'supply and demand' intersect in our contemporary societies, where capitalism, individualism and globalisation have created particular affective states that provide fertile ground for the populist appeal to resonate. By examining the emotions-populism relationship based on three broad dimensions - structural, subjective and communicative -, this article provides a multilevel analysis that unpacks the significance of emotions for the emergence, diffusion and success of populism.

Keywords: Emotionality; Narratives; Political communication; Political psychology; Populism

References


Albertazzi D. and D. McDonnell (2015), Populists in Power. London: Routledge.

Albertazzi D. and D. McDonnell (eds. 2008), Twenty-First Century Populism: The Spectre of Western Democracy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Alvares C. and P. Dahlgren (2016), “Populism, Extremism And Media: Mapping An Uncer-tain Terrain”, European Journal of Communication, 31(1): 46–57.

Bonansinga D. (2019), “The Securitization of Migration in Populist Discourse. Emotional and Affective Mechanisms at Play”, in L.S. Talani and M. Rosina (eds.), Tidal Waves? The political economy of migration and populism. Bern: Peter Lang, 151-172.

Brader T. (2006), Campaigning For Hearts And Minds: How Emotional Appeals In Political Ads Work. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Brader T. and G.E. Marcus (2013), “Emotions and Political Psychology”, in L. Huddy, J.S. Levy and D.O. Sears (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology. Second edi-tion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brader T., E.W. Groenendyk and N. Valentino (2010), “Fight Or Flight? When Political Threats Arouse Public Anger And Fear”. Proceedings from Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago.

Brader T., N. Valentino and E. Suhay (2008), “What Triggers Public Opposition To Immi-gration? Anxiety, Group Cues, And Immigration Threat”, American Journal of Political Science, 52(4): 959–978.

Brewer M. B. (2007), “The Importance Of Being We: Human Nature And Intergroup Rela-tions”, American Psychologist, 62(8): 728–738.

Caiani M. and P. Graziano (2016), “Varieties of populism: insights from the Italian case”, Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica, 46:2, 243–267

Campbell A., P. Converse, W.E. Miller and D.E. Stokes (1960), The American Voter. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Canovan M. (1984), “People, Politicians and Populism”, Government and Opposition, 19(3): 312–27.

Capelos T. and N. Demertzis (2018), “Political Action And Resentful Affectivity In Critical Times”, Humanity & Society, 42(4): 410-433.

Carver C. S. (2004), “Negative Affects Deriving From The Behavioral Approach System”, Emotion, 4(1): 3–22.

Demertzis N. (2013) “Political emotions”, in Nesbitt-Larking, P., C. Kinnvall, T. Capelos and H. Dekker (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook Of Global Political Psychology. Basing-stoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 223- 241.

Druckman J. N. and R. McDermott (2008), “Emotion And The Framing Of Risky Choice”, Political Behavior, 30(3), 297–321.

Eatwell R. and M. Goodwin (2018), National Populism. The Revolt

Against Liberal Democ-racy. Pelican

Flam H. and N. Doerr (2015), “Visuals analysis and emotion”. In: Kleres J. (ed.) Handbook of Methods of Exploring Emotions. London: Routledge, pp. 229–239.

Freeden M. (2013), “Editorial: Emotions, Ideology and Politics”, Journal of Political Ideo-logies, 18(1), pp. 1-10.

Frijda N. H. (1986), The Emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Giddens A. (1991), Modernity and Self Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Cambridge, England: Polity Press.

Goodwin J., J.M. Jasper and F. Polletta (2001), Passionate politics: Emotions and social movements. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Goodwin J., J.M. Jasper and F. Polletta (2000), “The Return of the Repressed: The Fall and Rise of Emotions in Social Movement Theory”, Mobilization, 5: 65–84.

Goodwin J. and S. Pfaff (2001), ‘Emotion Work in High-Risk Social Movements: Managing Fear in the U.S. and East German Civil Rights Movements’, in Goodwin J., J.M. Jasper and F. Polletta (eds.), Passionate politics: Emotions and social movements. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 282-302.

Grande E. and H. Kriesi (2012), “The Transformative Power Of Globalization And The Structure Of Political Conflict In Western Europe”, in H. Kriesi, E. Grande, M. Dolezal, M. Helbling, D. Höglinger, S. Hutter, et al. (eds.), Political Conflict in Western Eu-rope. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 3-35.

Groenendyk E. (2018), “Competing Motives In A Polarized Electorate: Political Respon-siveness, Identity Defensiveness And The Rise Of Partisan Antipathy”, Political Psy-chology, 39(1): 159-171.

Higgins T. (2000), “Social Cognition: Learning About What Matters In The Social World”, European Journal of Social Psychology, 30(1): 3-39.

Hochschild A. R. (2016) Strangers In Their Own Land. New York: New Press

Hsu M., C. Anen and S.R. Quartz (2008), “The Right And The Good: Distributive Justice And Neural Encoding Of Equity And Efficiency”, Science, 320: 1092–1095.

Huddy L. (2013) “From Group Identity to Political Cohesion and Commitment”, in L. Hud-dy, J.S. Levy and D.O. Sears (eds.) The Oxford Handbook Of Political Psychology. Sec-ond edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Huddy L., S. Feldman and E. Cassese (2007), “On The Distinct Political Effects Of Anxiety And Anger”, in W. R. Neuman, G. E. Marcus, M. Mackuen and A. N. Crigler (eds.), The Affect Effect: Dynamics Of Emotion In Political Thinking And Behavior. Chicago: Uni-versity of Chicago Press, pp. 202–230.

Inglehart R.F. and P. Norris (2016) “Trump, Brexit, and the Rise of Populism: Economic Have-Nots and Cultural Backlash”, HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series, August 2016, RWP16-026.

Iyengar S. and M. Krupenkin (2018), “The Strengthening Of Partisan Affect”, Political Psy-chology, 39(1): 201-218.

Iyengar S., G. Sood and Y. Lelkes (2012). “Affect Not Ideology: A Social Identity Perspec-tive On Polarisation”, Public Opinion Quarterly, 76(3): 405-431.

Iyengar S., Y. Lelkes, M. Levendusky, N. Malhotra and S.J. Westwood (2019), “The Origins and Consequences of Affective Polarization in the United States”, Annual Reviews of Political Science, 22: 129–46.

Jasper J. (1998), “The Emotions of Protest: Affective and Reactive Emotions in and Around Social Movements”, Sociological Forum, 13: 397-424.

Jenkins L. (2018), “Why do all our feelings about politics matter?”, The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 20(1): 191-205, doi: 10.1177/1369148117746917.

Jones P. and M. Krzyzanowski (2008), “Identity, Belonging an Migration: Beyond Con-structing Others”, in G. Delanty, R. Wodak, and P. Jones (eds.) Identity, Belonging and Migration. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Jost J. T., J. Glaser, A. W. Kruglanski and F.J. Sulloway (2003), “Political Conservatism As Motivated Social Cognition”, Psychological Bulletin, 129(3): 339–375.

Kenny M. (2017), “Back To The Populist Future? Understanding Nostalgia In Contempo-rary Ideological Discourse”, Journal of Political Ideologies, 22(3): 256. doi: 10.1080/13569317.2017.1346773.

Kinnvall C. (2014) “Fear, Insecurity and the (Re)Emergence of the Far Right in Europe”, in P. Nesbitt-Larkin, C. Kinnvall, T. Capelos and H. Dekker (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Global Political Psychology. Palgrave Studies in Political Psychology Series. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kinnvall C. (2018), “Ontological Insecurities and Postcolonial Imaginaries: The Emotional Appeal of Populism”, Humanity & Society, 42(4): 523-543.

Kinnvall C., I. Manners and J. Mitzen (2018), “Introduction To 2018 Special Issue Of Euro-pean Security: ‘Ontological (In)Security In The European Union’”, European Security, 27(3): 249-265.

Laclau E. (2005), ‘Populism: What’s in a Name?’, in F. Panizza (ed.), Populism and the Mir-ror of Democracy, London: Verso, 32–49.

Lazarus R. S. (1991), Emotion And Adaptation. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lerner J. S., R.M. Gonzalez, D. A Small and B. Fischhoff (2003), “Effects Of Fear And Anger On Perceived Risks Of Terrorism: A National Field Experiment”, Psychological Science, 14(2): 144–150.

MacKuen M., G.E. Marcus, W.R. Neuman, and L. Keele (2007), “The Third Way: The Theo-ry Of Affective Intelligence And American Democracy”, in A. Crigler, G. E. Marcus, M. MacKuen and W. R. Neuman (eds.), The Affect Effect: The Dynamics Of Emotion In Po-litical Thinking And Behavior. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 124–151.

Marcus G. E. and M. MacKuen (1993), “Anxiety, Enthusiasm And The Vote: The Emotional Underpinnings Of Learning And Involvement During Presidential Campaigns”, Ameri-can Political Science Review, 87(3): 688–701.

Marcus G. E., J.L. Sullivan, E. Theiss-Morse and D. Stevens (2005), “The Emotional Foun-dation Of Political Cognition: The Impact Of Extrinsic Anxiety On The Formation Of Political Tolerance Judgments”, Political Psychology, 26(6): 949–963.

Marcus G. E., W.R. Neuman and M. MacKuen (2000), Affective Intelligence And Political Judgment. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Marcus G. E., M.B. MacKuen and W.R. Neuman (2011) ‘Parsimony and complexity: De-veloping and testing theories of affective intelligence’. Political Psychology, 32 (2): 323–336.

Marquart F. and J. Matthes (2016), “Campaigning Subtle Exclusionism: The Effects Of Right-Wing Populist Positive Ads On Attitudes Toward Foreigners In Austria”, Studies in Communication Media, 5(2): 223–239.

Meny Y. and Y. Surel (eds. 2001), Democracies and the Populist Challenge. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Moffitt B. (2015) “How to Perform Crisis: A Model for Understanding the Key Role of Cri-sis in Contemporary Populism”, Government and Opposition, 50(2): 189–217.

Moffitt B. and S. Tormey (2014), “Rethinking Populism: Politics, Mediatisation and Politi-cal Style”, Political Studies, 62: 381–397.

Mols F. and J. Jetten (2016), “Explaining The Appeal Of Populist Rightwing Parties In Times Of Economic Prosperity”, Political Psychology, 37: 275–292. doi:10.1111/pops.12258

Mudde C. (2004), “The Populist Zeitgeist”, Government and Opposition, 39(4): 541–63.

Mudde C. (2007), Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-sity Press.

Mudde C. and C. Rovira Kaltwasser (2013), “Exclusionary vs. Inclusionary Populism: Com-paring Contemporary Europe and Latin America”, Government and Opposition, 48: 147-174.

Mudde C. (2017), ‘Populism: An Ideational Approach’, in C. Rovira Kaltwasser, P. Taggart, P. Ochoa Espejo and P. Ostiguy (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Populism. Oxford Uni-versity Press.

Oatley K. and J.M. Jenkins (1996), Understanding Emotions. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Panizza F. (2005) ‘Introduction: Populism and the Mirror of Democracy’, in F. Panizza (ed.), Populism and the Mirror of Democracy. London: Verso, 1–31.

Redlawsk D. P., A.J. Civettini and R.R. Lau (2007), “Affective Intelligence And Voting: In-formation Processing And Learning In A Campaign”, in W. R. Neuman, G. E. Marcus, A. Crigler and M. MacKuen (eds.), The affect effect: Dynamics of emotion in political thinking and behavior. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 152–179.

Richardson J.E. and M. Colombo (2014), “Race and immigration in far- and extreme-right European political leaflets”. In: Hart C. and P. Cap (eds.) Contemporary Critical Dis-course Studies. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Richardson J.E. and R. Wodak (2009), “The impact of visual racism: Visual arguments in political leaflets of Austrian and British far-right parties”. Controversia 6(2): 45–77.

Rico G., M. Guinjoan and E. Anduiza (2017), “The Emotional Underpinnings of Populism: How Anger and Fear Affect Populist Attitudes”, Swiss Political Science Review 23(4): 444-461

Roseman I. J., A.A Antoniou and P.E. Jose (1996), “Appraisal Determinants Of Emotions: Constructing A More Accurate And Comprehensive Theory”, Cognition and Emotion, 10: 241–277.

Salmela M. and C. Von Scheve (2017), “Emotional Roots Of Right-Wing Political Popu-lism”, Social Science Information, 56 (4): 567 – 595.

Salmela M. and C. Von Scheve (2018), “Emotional Dynamics of Right- and Left-wing Polit-ical Populism”, Humanity & Society, 42(4): 434-454.

Scherer K. R. (1982), “Emotion As Process: Function, Origin And Regulation”, Social Sci-ence Information, 21: 555-570.

Scherer K.R. (2001), “Appraisals Considered As A Process Of Multilevel Sequential Check-ing”, in K. R. Scherer, A. Schorr, and T. Johnstone (eds.) Appraisals Processes In Emo-tion. Theory, Methods, Research. New York: Oxford University Press, 92-120.

Sindic D. and S. Condor (2014), “Social Identity Theory and Self-Categorisation Theory”, in P. Nesbitt-Larking, C. Kinnvall, T. Capelos and H. Dekker (eds.) The Palgrave Hand-book of Global Political Psychology. London: Palgrave Macmillian

Smith C. A. and P.C Ellsworth (1985), “Patterns Of Cognitive Appraisal In Emotion”, Jour-nal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48(4): 813–838, doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.48.4.813.

Smith T. W. (2006), Altruism And Empathy In America: Trends And Correlates. Chicago: National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago.

Stein A. (2001), “Revenge of the Shamed: The Christian Right’s Emotional Culture War”, in Goodwin J., J.M. Jasper and F. Polletta (eds.), Passionate politics: Emotions and so-cial movements. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 115-134.

Taber C.S., and E. Young (2013), “Information Processing”, in L. Huddy, J.S. Levy and D.O Sears (eds.), The Oxford Handbook Of Political Psychology. Second edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Taggart P. (2000), Populism. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Taggart P. (2004), “Populism And Representative Politics In Contemporary Europe”, Jour-nal of Political Ideologies, 9(3): 269-288.

Taguieff P-A. (2007), L’Illusion Populiste. Champs: Editions Flammarion.

Tajfel H. and J.C. Turner (1979), “An Integrative Theory Of Intergroup Conflict”, in W. G. Austin and S. Worchel (eds.), The Social Psychology Of Intergroup Relations, Monte-rey, CA: Brooks/Cole, 33–47.

Thorisdottir H. and J.T. Jost (2010), “Motivated Closed-Mindedness Mediates The Effect Of Threat On Political Conservatism”, Political Psychology, 31: 1–38.

Valentino N. A., V.L. Hutchings, A.J Banks and A.K. Davis (2008), “Is A Worried Citizen A Good Citizen? Emotions, Political Information Seeking, And Learning Via The Inter-net”, Political Psychology, 29(2): 247–273.

Vasilopoulou S., D. Halikiopoulou and T. Exadaktylos (2014), “Greece in Crisis: Austerity, Populism and the Politics of Blame”, JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 52(2): 388-402.

Weyland K. (2001), “Clarifying a Contested Concept. Populism in the Study of Latin Amer-ican Politics”, Comparative Politics, 34(1): 1–22.

Wirz D. (2018), “Persuasion Through Emotion? An Experimental Test of the Emotion-Eliciting Nature of Populist Communication”, International Journal of Communication, 12(2018): 1114–1138.

Wodak R. (2015), The Politics of Fear. What Right-wing Populist Discourses Mean. Lon-don: Sage.


Full Text: PDF

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.