From Specific Worries to Generalized Anger. The Emotional Dynamics of Right-Wing Political Populism
Nguyen, Christoph Giang; Salmela, Mikko; Scheve, Christian von – 2022
Right-wing populist parties have transformed the political landscape across many advanced, democratic economies. Their continued strength has been linked to an increasing sense of both economic and cultural insecurity, driven by the conjunction of economic deregulation, globalization, and increased socio-cultural competition. However, socioeconomic factors alone do not fully capture the dynamics of populist activation and support. In this chapter, we argue that emotional processes are a fundamental component that underpins support for right-wing populist parties. We argue that one ignored mechanism of ‘“ressentiment’” explains how support for right-wing populists can transform specific and targeted negative emotions, such as insecurity and worries, into generalized anger and resentment. We furthermore propose that this generalized anger does not only create a new political identity of shared grievance, it also furthers political polarization and leads to further strengthening of a newly found right-wing populist lifeworld.