Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN32_02b_H: Politics, Identity, and Emotions
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Ov Cristian Norocel, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Location: HB.2.17
HAROKOPIO University 70 El. Venizelou Street 17671 Athens, Greece Building: B, Level: 2.

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Support for emocracy: To what extent do voters consider emotions to be more important than facts?

Sabrina de Regt

Utrecht University, Netherlands, The

It is known that many statements of Donald Trump during the election were (mostly) false, still he was elected the 45th president of the United States. Not only in the United States, but also in Europe you see that convincing stories and emotions seem to be more important during elections than facts and figures. This phenomenon can be labeled emocracy: a political system in which emotions are considered to be most important. Though support for democracy has been studied extensively, support for emocracy has been studied less often. This is remarkable given the recent developments in many Western societies. In this article we will first develop a scale to reliably measure support for emocracy. Subsequently, we will study the determinants of support for emocracy. More specifically the influence of education, gender, political preferences and personality factors like agreeableness and need for cognition are examined. Last, we will study to what extent support for emocracy is negatively related to support for democracy. To answer these questions data from the Longitudinal Internet Studies for the Social Sciences Panel are used.

The Democratic Personality - Theoretical Explorations of the Possibility of a D-Scale

Helen Sophie Andrea Lindberg

Linnaeus University, Sweden

We know that if morality rests upon loyalty foundation rather than the care foundation, a violent patriotism can evolve. A violent dogmatic patriotism can be hampered by actively teaching empathy and compassion. I will focus on the role of ethics, empathy and virtuous behavior for a Democratic personality. The policy implications for the rights-based welfare state are immense and also the implications for how to think new possible developments of a democratic transnational solidarity. The Authoritarian personality and Feeling-with or the affective aspects of solidarity and the need of mutual concern as key feature of solidarity have previously been explored. Empathic or solidaristic recognition which transgress national and cultural borders include a more feelingful as well as cognitive understanding of the distinctiveness of others in their concrete circumstances including an acknowledgement of the difficulties they face, and an appreciation of their agency in that context. Solidaristic recognition presupposes equal rights but goes further in recognizing some specificity of people’s needs and of their social context. It embodies a caring attitude toward others and it also can help minimize violence. This assumption goes well with research on empathy and prejudice and with the links between human development and life satisfaction. Typologies of democratic or autocratic regimes tend to omit the importance of care as a growing concern for democratic states regardless of model. I argue that social care and the social practice of empathy can be included in a typologization of the Democratic personality.

The Path of Totality: Hegemony and Nationalism

Michaelangelo Anastasiou

University of Victoria, Canada

An examination of scholarly work on nationalism reveals that the nation is typically defined on the basis of positivistic understandings of human nature or society. Consequently, it is understood, not in term of its own specificity, but in terms of an underlying referent that is thought to engender it. Since the unity of the nation is attributed to a “privileged” cause, the plurality of forms that co-constitute it are underemphasized. The literature has thus failed to effectively examine how the “unity” of the nation can emerge in light of the plurality of its constitutive forms and subject positions. The present work seeks to furnish a theory of nationalism that eliminates all reliance on positivism, by utilizing Laclau and Mouffe’s theory of hegemony, which sees socio-political blocs as discursive terrains of multiple overdetermined forms and relations. Nationalism is by extension understood, not in terms of privileged constituents, but as a variable set of overdetermined “family resemblances” that come to represent the “totality” of any national community. These “family resemblances” come to be dispersed variably and unevenly, as privileged nodes in the field of overdetermination, “binding” together differential identities. And since what governs any discursive formation is the uneven play of differences, it follows that a particular identity will have saturated, more than any other, the field of overdetermination and the content of nodal signifiers (e.g. “the nation”) with its narratives, thereby establishing its hegemony. “The nation” can thus be understood as a privileged signifier of historically variable content that, through its general and uneven dispersion, fuses but unevenly privileges, multiple identities into a socio-political bloc.

Symbolic politics as an instrument of state-building. The case of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Tomasz Rawski

University of Warsaw, Poland

The paper concerns symbolic politics as an instrument of state-building process. On the example of the complex struggle for state symbols of contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina (the flag and coat-of arms) in the period 1991-1998, it reveals four possible types of strategies calculated to define the symbolic core of the state.

In this way, the paper achieves two main goals: (1) it exposes a significant role of symbolic politics as one of the key dimensions of state activity; (2) it denaturalizes the classical Weberian vision of the state by pointing out that even its the most fundamental features are highly vulnerable to a radical change in the course of political action.

Authority and Power in Times of Crisis: Charismatic Leadership Versus the Trickster

Bjorn Thomassen

Roskilde University, Denmark

The ancient concept of charisma entered political sociology via Max Weber, in his attempt to capture leadership and authority in out-of-ordinary or ‘liminal’ moments. During the 20th century, Weber’s concept has been applied to a range of leadership figures within religion and politics; in particular, charismatic leadership has been used to describe figures like Stalin, Hitler or Mussolini, and other more recent ‘populist’ politicians who build their leadership around a personal cult of power.

This paper suggests that such commonplace applications of Weber’s terminology are essentially flawed and need a serious rethinking. This can be done by supplementing the political sociology conceptual canon with the trickster figure. The obscure, ambivalent, shadowy trickster figure is well-known from the comparative study of myth and was considered an archetype by Jung. While tricksters also rise to power in out-of-ordinary moments, they are in many ways the exact opposites of Weber’s charismatic leaders. The paper concludes – tentatively - that the particular ‘qualities’ and ‘ways’ of the trickster help us to grasp not only the way dictators gained power in the 20th century, but also some central power mechanisms in current European politics.

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