Negative emotions, including anger, fear and shame, have been at the heart of recent political events, such as the protests against COVID-19 restrictions. These negative emotions can be politically destructive, leading people to act rashly without due concern for democratic principles. However, they can also accurately signal wrongdoing and motivate acts to redress the situation, as displayed in the Black Lives Matter and climate change movements.
This volume brings together perspectives from political science and philosophy to shed new light on the political faces of negative emotions. Engaging with real-world political events from Europe, the US and Africa, contributors critically evaluate much-discussed emotions, such as anger and fear, but also less prominent ones, such as frustration and discomfort.
Anger, fear, grief, shame and other negative emotions have been at the heart of political events in recent years. These are emotions that have long been subject to suspicion in political scholarship. There are some good reasons for this. Negative emotions can be politically destructive, leading people to act rashly and without due concern for democratic principles or fellow citizens. Arguably, the rise of far-right populism and the protests against restrictions during the COVID pandemic both testify to this. But, in condemning the vices of negative emotions, it is easy to overlook their virtues. They can, for example, accurately signal that we have been wronged, that we have done something wrong, or that something we value is threatened, and motivate us to act to redress the situation, sometimes in concert with other people. Indeed, the capacity of emotions like fear and anger to do just this has been on display in the Black Lives Matter and climate change movements. This volume brings together perspectives from philosophy and political science to shed new light on negative emotions in public life, highlighting both the constructive and destructive potential of these experiences. Each chapter investigates what recent political events in different parts of the world reveal about the political character of an emotion or particular set of emotions. These include much-discussed emotions, like anger and fear, and less prominent ones, like frustration and discomfort. The overall result is a dynamic set of tools that can help us better understand and navigate our current crises.