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The Politics of Fear

The Politics of Fear
What Right-Wing Populist Discourses Mean

© 2015 | 256 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Instructors - Electronic inspection copies are available or contact your local sales representative for an inspection copy of the print version.

Winner of the Austrian Book Prize for the 2016 German translation, in the category of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Populist right-wing politics is moving centre-stage, with some parties reaching the very top of the electoral ladder: but do we know why, and why now?

In this book Ruth Wodak traces the trajectories of such parties from the margins of the political landscape to its centre, to understand and explain how they are transforming from fringe voices to persuasive political actors who set the agenda and frame media debates. Laying bare the normalization of nationalistic, xenophobic, racist and antisemitic rhetoric, she builds a new framework for this ‘politics of fear’ that is entrenching new social divides of nation, gender and body.

The result reveals the micro-politics of right-wing populism: how discourses, genres, images and texts are performed and manipulated in both formal and also everyday contexts with profound consequences. This book is a must-read for scholars and students of linguistics, media and politics wishing to understand these dynamics that are re-shaping our political space.

Chapter 1: Populism and Politics: Transgressing Norms and Taboos
Chapter 2: Theories and Definitions: The Politics of Identity
Chapter 3: Protecting Borders and the People: The Politics of Exclusion
Chapter 4: Language and Identity: The Politics of Nationalism
Chapter 5: Antisemitism: The Politics of Denial
Chapter 6: Performance and the Media: The Politics of Charisma
Chapter 7: Gender and the Body Politic: The Politics of Patriarchy
Chapter 8: Mainstreaming: The Normalization of Exclusion


Radio program with Dr. Wodak
At the ballot box and in the street, extreme-right views are challenging mainstream liberal democratic orthodoxies. Listen to this radio program to hear from Dr. Wodak and other panel speakers on the matter. 
Guardian interview
This interview addresses the fivefold increase in reports of hate crime immediately after the referendum, with Dr. Wodak explaining how politicians have disguised racism in outwardly reasonable rhetoric. 

Social Science Space interview
Social Science Space interviewed Wodak specifically about how her lifetime’s work on discourse, especially as concentrated in The Politics of Fear, could help analyze the Trump phenomenon. 

Professor Wodak's new book continues a long and eminent trajectory of research on racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and patriarchy. This specific book is especially timely because it describes and explains in great detail the discursive and social mechanisms of the growing influence of extremist right-wing ideologies, policies and politics in Europe. This is Critical Discourse Analysis at its best.

Teun A van Dijk
Pompeu Fabra University

This is an outstanding book. Ruth Wodak has managed to address a very wide range of countries, right-wing parties and political genres, but without sacrificing detailed and rigorous analysis. Vital reading, for students and scholars of politics and critical discourse analysis. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

John Richardson
Loughborough University

Ruth Wodak’s timely new book is both politically and intellectually important. Using close linguistic analysis and impressively deep political insight, Wodak takes apart the strategies, rhetoric and half-truths of today’s right-wing populists. All who are disturbed by current political trends in Europe and America should read The Politics of Fear.

Michael Billig
Loughborough University

European right wing populist parties insistently claim their 'normality' and have become so common place that many are tempted to believe them. In this context, with her trademark rigour and precision, Wodak gives us a fascinating insight into what makes their discourse so unique and so different from their rivals. Her compelling analysis of the linguistic construction of scapegoats and of the 'arrogance of ignorance' will influence our understanding of right wing extremism for a long time to come.

Michael Bruter
London School of Economics and Political Science

With an assured hand, Ruth Wodak takes readers into the darker corners of right-wing populism today. Complimenting her analysis of exclusionary discourse and ideology are a series of isolated key statements by leading ideologues, as well as 15 localised vignettes revealing the diverse ways in which far right parties aim to gain legitimation through scapegoating, faux-authenticity, and oftentimes hypocritical hostility to elites. The result is a finely balanced study; one that is both accessible and scholarly rigorous. The Politics of Fear’s shrewd discussion of a resurgent nationalism, xenophobia and chauvinism in diverse European and American context is timely, wide-ranging and highly recommended.

Prof. Matthew Feldman
Teesside University

Sample Materials & Chapters

The Politics of Fear:- Gender: Politics of Patriarchy

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ISBN: 9781446247006
ISBN: 9781446246993

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