Conference Agenda

RN11_02b: Mediated Politics of Fear, Hate and Anger
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Mikko Salmela, University of Helsinki
Location: BS.3.27
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road


The Social Construction of Fear and Hatred in Italy

Alessandro Pratesi

University of Florence, Italy

Are there emotions which are more relevant than others to understand and explain electoral political choices? How are these emotions built and solidified? What is the role of media and social media? How can the study of emotions improve our knowledge and understanding of contemporary political dynamics at a national and international level? Can the intrinsic ambivalence and transmutation of emotions transform them in potential resources for social change? These are some of the questions addressed in this paper.

Drawing on a Goffmanian and content analysis of media texts and images selected from two Italian newspapers of opposite political views, this paper highlights the way in which political consensus is manufactured, performed and maintained through an entire emotional set of feeling rules (Hochschild) and micropolitics of emotions (Ahmed). The affective registers seem to produce positive electoral outcomes across the political spectrum, but certain emotions (anger, frustration, fear) seem to be stronger, more efficacious and to last longer than others (trust, hope, love) in terms of electorally successful outcomes.

Preliminary findings seem to confirm that the emotional style and the charismatic leadership are more effective when feelings such as fear, resentment and hate are at stake. But the social construction of hatred does not exclude the social construction of solidarity and other positive emotions. This is consistent with recent literature on emotions in mediated politics (Wahl-Jorgensen, 2019). Putting emotions at the centre of our analytical interpretations allow us to avoid both media banalizations and political manipulations; understanding their key role is not only relevant as an academic achievement, but also in terms of political strategies and policy recommendations at a national and international level.

Compassion, Solidarity and Othering – The Connection between ‘Politics of Emotions’ and Discourses on Migration

Maria Magdalena Mayer

University of Vienna, Austria

The ‘refugee crisis’ has been one of the most important topics in European media and politics in 2015 and 2016. While there was much attention given to right-wing politicians fostering ‘fear’ and ‘hate’, ‘empathy’ and ‘compassion’ were named to be the right strategy against these emotions. On the one hand, empathy seems to be seen as the condition for a civil society working in solidarity with refugees –on the other hand, claims arise to not ‘feel too much’ and to foster strong nation states with border controls: ‘the fortress Europe’.In my presentation I will examine the question how compassion, empathy and solidarity are connected to the perception of the ‘other’ as well as seeing how these interdependencies are connected to ‘politics of emotions’ and national identities. My research combines questions of identity, nationalism and emotions as well as politics of migration.To give insights into these discussions and the theoretical and empirical research of my discourse analysis, I will present findings from several newspaper articles included in a discourse analysis in German newspapers from 2015 and 2016 as well as parliamentary discussions from 2016. These findings will show the ambivalent ways in which compassion and empathy influence the discourses of emotions and migration and what critical role the study of emotions and affects therefore play for migration studies and questions of anti-racism and solidarity.

Affective (Re)Orientations in Online Discussions on the Threat of Violence Posed by Migrants

Satu Venäläinen1, Tuija Virkki2

1University of Helsinki, Finland; 2University of Jyväskylä

Online discussions are rife with fear-evoking images and meaning-making that highlight the threat posed by violence committed by migrants to the security of European nations and their inhabitants in the wake of increased immigration. This paper focuses on the role of emotions in shaping anti-immigration views as a response to the threat of violence attached to migrants in online discussions. In particular, we analyse the affective dynamics in processes of interpellation where participants in online discussions are invited to adopt anti-immigration orientations, and which work to construct such orientations as morally legitimate. The data consists of online discussion threads that comment on various cases of violent crime – mainly sexual violence against women and an alleged terrorist attack – with migrants as suspects that gained vast media attention in years 2015–2017 in Finland. Our analysis shows how emotions such as fear, hate and love work together in complex ways in constituting and shifting meanings associated with migrants, on one hand, and with those holding anti-immigration views, on the other. These processes allow for the construction and uptake of affectively appealing identities, such as those of ‘normal citizens’ and ‘caring parents’, which are based on re-signification of anti-immigration orientations enabled by the sticking of affects to the othered figure of a dangerous migrant. The analysis thus provides insight into processes in which ‘ordinary’ citizens hear, and respond to, the call of xenophobic positions, and illustrates how a sense of community and care for it is built in these affective, exclusionary processes.

Emotional Dynamics of Political Scandals and Scandalizations

Monika Verbalyte1,2

1Freie Universität Berlin, Germany; 2Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg

Scandal is very often defined through the public moral outrage; however, the nature of this emotion in the scandal research has barely ever been really investigated. My theoretical work on the role of emotions in the political scandal discloses that: 1) moral outrage is not the automatic emotional reaction of the public, it is a result of emotio-discursive work; 2) emotio-discursive work is a dynamic process with emotions articulated in it changing when the scandal progresses.

These two premises are the basis for my empirical inquiry into the public emotion articulation during the political scandal. Its dynamic is analyzed with the trans-sequential discourse analysis of media coverage of German political scandals. Analyzed scandals differ in their extend and course, and thus in their emotional dynamics. The focus of this presentation will be these differences in emotio-discursive work of my cases.

First, I will explain the logic of my case selection and comparison. Second, I will present the emotional dynamics of the full-blown scandal: its turn from excitement to moral outrage and from moral outrage to contempt. Third, I will compare this dynamic to the dynamic of the unsuccessful scandalization, scandalization which ended in no scandal, i.e. in no consequence for the politician, and therefore never reached the contempt phase. Then, the second comparision will be made between the typical complete scandal and the scandal which was interrupted by early resignation of the politician. Last, comparison of the unsuccessful scandal and interrupted scandal will be drawn: Does the emotional dynamics of both cases end in moral outrage or does the emotional dynamics of the interrupted scandal have a tendency to be continued in some way?