The emotional life of populism: how fear, disgust, resentment, and love undermine democracy

Eva Illouz, Avital Sicron

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Throughout the world, democracy is under assault by various populist movements and ideologies. And throughout the world, the same enigma: why is it that political figures or governments, who have no qualms about aggravating social inequalities, enjoy the support of those whom their ideas and policies affect and hurt the most? To make sense of this enigma, the sociologist Eva Illouz argues that we must understand the crucial role that emotions play in our political life. Only emotions have the power to deny factual evidence and obscure one's self-interest. Taking the case of Israel as her prime example, she shows that the authoritarianism and conservative nationalism that form the core of populist politics rest on four key emotions: authoritarianism is legitimated through fear, and conservative nationalism rests on disgust, resentment and a carefully cultivated love for one's country. It is the combination of these four emotions and their relentless presence in the political arena that nourishes and underpins the rise and persistence of populism both in Israel and in many other countries around the world. This highly original perspective on the rise of populism will be of interest to anyone who wishes to understand the key political developments of our time.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge, UK
PublisherPolity Press
Number of pages225
ISBN (Print)1509558187, 1509558195, 9781509558186, 9781509558193
StatePublished - 2023


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