Understanding Enemy Images in Central and Eastern European Politics
Towards an Interdisciplinary Approach
In recent years, Europe has experienced a rise in politics based on antagonism, often discussed from the perspectives of populism and the mainstreaming of the ideologies of the radical right. In this study, we argue that there is a need for an interdisciplinary, theoretically broader and more empirically focused approach that fosters understanding of these developments. To explore the causal factors, we focus on the enemy images that are constructed and diffused by politicians, and their specific historical and structural contexts. The paper thus has two main components: First, we review what political theory, research on populism and on the extreme right and social psychology say about the functions of the use and development of enemy images. Second, we highlight the contextual factors that we consider make the success of a politics based on enemy images more likely in Central and Eastern Europe.
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