Inequality, Identity, and Mobilization of Resentment
Is radical right populism a bottom up phenomenon, driven by voter sentiment? Or is it a top-down phenomenon, an outgrowth of failed strategies of political elites? This project looks at the intersection of both and analyzes how economic inequality has led mainstream politicians to alter how they frame “identity” issues which in turn has prompted a radicalization of right wing forces. The project has a cross-national scope of Europe and North America and covers the period 1945 to the present, and involves four steps: a) the assessment of how economic inequality has affected the electoral base of center right parties, b) how center right parties have altered their “issue” emphasis in election campaigns and governing, c) how voters have altered the relative salience of identity based on how politicians “talk,” and d) the degree to which this has led voters to vote for radical parties. Data collection on each of these steps of the analysis is the center piece of this project.