4 October 2021

The Anti-Politics Specialist Group Call for Papers:

“The Emotional Dynamics of Anti-Politics”

Annual Conference of the UK Political Science Association, University of York, April 10-13, 2022


Please send an abstract to Gergana Dimova at gergana.dimova@politics.ox.ac.uk by October 13th 2021.


The Anti-Politics Specialist Group of the UK Political Science Association is issuing a call for papers related to the theme of “The Emotional Dynamics of Anti-Politics”. The panels will have four main thematic pillars, although we welcome other contributions related to the theme:

  1. Not all emotions underpinning anti-politics are created equal: This set of papers will delineate the variety of emotions that can lead to anti-political sentiments. It will juxtapose such emotions as hope, fear, love, shame, hate, embarrassment, alienation and anger. The panel will discuss the following inquiries:  Are the emotions leading to anti-politics interconnected, such as, for example, feelings of loss of self-esteem culminating into anger directed at technocrats and the system as a whole? Alternatively, are these emotions discrete and independent? Furthermore, are some emotional drivers, such as hate, anger and fear, more outward-centred than other more inward-looking emotions, such as embarrassment and shame? If such a differentiation between the outward and inward centred emotions exists, is it consequential in terms of the political manifestations of these emotions? What factors are most likely to cause people to feel disaffected, disappointed and distrustful? Does nostalgia- a key concept in anti-politics and in populism- have an emotional dimension? How does a society built around hope differ from a society built around fear? Can positive emotions, such as hope and love, generate negative sentiments towards the political, and vice versa?


  1. Not all emotions trump the rational roots of anti-politics: This set of papers will get to the heart of one of the most hotly contested debates in political science, mainly whether anti-political sentiments arise from rational reactions to material conditions or from emotional reactions to non-material substances, such as an identity crisis and the hollowing out of democracy. It will inquire, for example, whether distrust of immigrants and minorities is an identity-based and emotional and identity-based reaction to feeling left out and replaced by newcomers, who differ widely in terms of culture and history. Alternatively, is distrust of immigrants and minorities a rational reaction to the decreased availability of jobs, living space, school places and others? Gauging the relative explanatory power of these opposing explanations would be a primary goal of this panel. However, exploring the interconnections between material and non-material conditions, and how they lead to anti-political sentiments, would be equally important.


  1. Not all politicians ride the emotional dynamics of anti-politics in the same way: This strand of research will look into the arsenal of tools that politicians use to arouse and marshal anti-political emotions in their favour. The themes include, but are not limited to: perfomativity, style, oratory skills, discursive strategies and the use of the internet and other products of the technological revolution to convey a sense of authenticity, invoke a sense of community, relate to the glorious past, etc. The key component in this thematic set is to explore the connection between the particular emotions and the respective tools for invoking or managing them.


  1. Not all anti-political sentiments are felt by the proverbial white man: It is often believed that the middle aged (and older) male voter is the main harbinger of anti-political sentiments, because he feels that his place in society and politics has diminished over time (e.g. Hochshield 2016). But is feeling estranged, disillusioned and dissatisfied peculiar to the white men category only? Could some minority groups feel the same due to fundamentally different reasons, such as racism, misogyny and nationalism, for example (Mishra 2016)? And if this is indeed the case, how come such various segments of society are feeling the same anti-political sentiment but for sometimes directly opposite reasons?