7: For Love and for Life: Emotional Dynamics at the World Congress of Families

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The chapter explores the relationship between emotions, collective identity and mobilisation in conservative social movements through an analysis of the World Congress of Families’ (WCF) 13th international conference, held in Verona in March 2019. WCF promotes Christian family values and brings together anti-gay, anti-feminist and anti-abortion activists, religious leaders, and politicians from around the world. We attended the congress and base our analysis on observations and theories on social movements and emotions. Both positive and negative emotions as well as symbols and metaphors were used as building blocks in the emotional work that holds this conservative movement together. In order to provide a deeper understanding of the mechanisms we show how passive emotions are turned into active, how the differences between ‘us’ and ‘them’ are constructed, and how the combination of positive and negative emotions helps motivate action.

Key messages

  • Emotions play a crucial role in the conservative social movement World Congress of Families

  • Positive emotions serve to convince people that the movement works for the common good

  • Negative emotions are used to demonize the opponents

  • The combination of positive and negative emotions functions as moral batteries that help motivate engagement

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May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
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