On SAGE Insight: What’s hate got to do with it? Right-wing movements and the hate stereotype

From Current Sociology

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Hate is a contentious concept. Compared to other emotions, people are less willing to admit that they hate someone and denouncing a person as ‘hateful’ is a serious accusation. While hate is traditionally defined as an emotional extreme, the concept is regularly used. We can hate certain foods, songs, activities and celebrities, without ever being accused of being ‘hateful’. As a folk concept, hate encompasses everything from differences in taste, to motivations for genocide. This ambiguity also extends into the social sciences, where there is no consensus as to what constitutes hate. Nevertheless, ‘hate’ is prominent in scholarship on prejudice, extremism, crime, war and genocide. Some authors expose the ‘world of hate’ or the ‘web of hate’, as though hatred is exotic or alien.

Using contemporary theories of hate, this article demonstrates the concept’s limits and misuse in studying and theorizing the political Right. F We need a more rigorous approach for enquiring about right-wing movements and their relationship to everyday inequality. This question has become urgent with the surge of right-wing populism across the West, an issue that should not be signified as a ‘growing hate problem’ in the population or instance, hate’s theoretical and methodological ambiguity sometimes leads scholars to confuse hatred with right-wing ideology and prejudice, which can obfuscate findings and spur dubious generalizations across political groups. Moreover, some researchers accept post-structuralist theories of hate as a substitute for vital data on emotions. In the first section of this article the author reviews modern hate scholarship, focusing on early pathological narratives to contemporary explanations of outgroup hate. The second section then outlines the hate stereotype, showing how hate is conflated with right-wing politics in public policy research and social science. The author aims not to justify or absolve right-wing prejudices. Rather, to call for conceptual clarity and critical analysis through minimizing unfounded assumptions about hate and motivations. The paper concludes by suggesting we need a more rigorous approach for enquiring about right-wing movements and their relationship to everyday inequality. This question has become urgent with the surge of right-wing populism across the West, an issue that should not be signified as a ‘growing hate problem’ in the population.

Abstract

 ‘Hate stereotyping’ occurs when researchers foreground negative emotions, especially hate, as motivating right-wing social movements, epitomized by labels like ‘hate group’. This convention contradicts empirical evidence showing that hateful feelings and ideological prejudices are mostly insignificant for attracting and retaining members in such movements. Using contemporary theories of hate, this article demonstrates the concept’s limits and misuse in studying and theorizing the political Right. For instance, hate’s theoretical and methodological ambiguity sometimes leads scholars to confuse hatred with right-wing ideology and prejudice, which can obfuscate findings and spur dubious generalizations across political groups. Moreover, some researchers accept post-structuralist theories of hate as a substitute for vital data on emotions, motivations and meaning-making among right-wing actors. Hate explanations persist because they appeal to ‘common sense’ about intolerance, not because of their methodological integrity for studying right-wing movements. By foregrounding intolerance, hate stereotyping risks sustaining the dominant narrative that prejudices such as racism are deviant, and that racism is a problem of bad attitudes and fringe ideologies, rather than larger issues of systemic and structural inequality.

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Article details
What’s hate got to do with it? Right-wing movements and the hate stereotype
Justin Everett, Cobain Tetrault
First Published April 25, 2019 Research Article
DOI: 10.1177/0011392119842257
Current Sociology

 


     
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