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Politics as the mobilization of anger emotions in movements and in power

By David Ost


In most academic research on politics, emotions are deemed important only to the realm of subjects or citizens, not to power. Emotions are presented as a problem power has to deal with, not something with which power is itself intimately involved. This article discusses recent attempts to reintroduce emotions into political analysis and argue that they are incomplete insofar as they look only at opposition social movements, not at mainstream parties. With a nod to Carl Schmitt, I argue that anger is not something that only occasionally bursts onto the political scene, but is central to ‘normal ’ politics as well. Anger is central to politics both as a diffuse, untargeted sentiment citizens experience, usually economically, and as the emotion political organ-izers need to capture and channel, which they do by offering up an ‘enemy’ they identify as the source of the problem. Opposition movements and parties of power alike succeed when they persuade people to accept the enemy they propose

Year: 2004
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