Beyond Economic Insecurity and Cultural Backlash

Economic Nationalism and the Rise of the Far Right

Originally published in Sociology Compass

Far‐right parties gain in electoral support across the globe. Studies describe this phenomenon either as a cultural backlash or as a reaction to growing economic inequality. The economic inequality perspective suggests that the transforming workforce in post‐industrial societies gives rise to economic insecurity among those who feel left behind. In contrast, the cultural backlash thesis argues that the increasing support for far‐right parties represents a rejection of values such as cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism. More recent scholarship sought to show how economic and cultural factors combined increase the support for the far right. Most of these studies investigate public opinion polls, voting behaviour, and voters´ socio‐economic contexts. This paper reviews these studies and argues that the way in which far‐right political parties construct an interconnection of economic and cultural ideas in discourse is largely neglected in the existing body of literature. The paper concludes that the concept of economic nationalism captures how these two components are intertwined; economic nationalist discourse in far‐right political manifestos and speeches provides a more complete comprehension how public opinion is being shaped. This contribution offers a starting point for future studies to examine how cultural values, such as nationalism, reconstruct and influence articulation of economic policy.

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