You are here

Due to global supply chain disruptions, we recommend ordering print titles early.
SAGE online ordering services will be unavailable due to system maintenance on June 26th at 8:30 pm Pacific / 11:30 pm Eastern for 30 mintues. Thank you for your patience and we apologize for the inconvenience.
The Politics of Fear

The Politics of Fear
What Right-Wing Populist Discourses Mean

October 2015 | 256 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Winner of the Austrian Book Prize for the 2016 German translation, in the category of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Populist right-wing politics is moving centre-stage, with some parties reaching the very top of the electoral ladder: but do we know why, and why now?

In this book Ruth Wodak traces the trajectories of such parties from the margins of the political landscape to its centre, to understand and explain how they are transforming from fringe voices to persuasive political actors who set the agenda and frame media debates. Laying bare the normalization of nationalistic, xenophobic, racist and antisemitic rhetoric, she builds a new framework for this ‘politics of fear’ that is entrenching new social divides of nation, gender and body.

The result reveals the micro-politics of right-wing populism: how discourses, genres, images and texts are performed and manipulated in both formal and also everyday contexts with profound consequences. This book is a must-read for scholars and students of linguistics, media and politics wishing to understand these dynamics that are re-shaping our political space.

Chapter 1: Populism and Politics: Transgressing Norms and Taboos
Chapter 2: Theories and Definitions: The Politics of Identity
Chapter 3: Protecting Borders and the People: The Politics of Exclusion
Chapter 4: Language and Identity: The Politics of Nationalism
Chapter 5: Antisemitism: The Politics of Denial
Chapter 6: Performance and the Media: The Politics of Charisma
Chapter 7: Gender and the Body Politic: The Politics of Patriarchy
Chapter 8: Mainstreaming: The Normalization of Exclusion

Professor Wodak's new book continues a long and eminent trajectory of research on racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and patriarchy. This specific book is especially timely because it describes and explains in great detail the discursive and social mechanisms of the growing influence of extremist right-wing ideologies, policies and politics in Europe. This is Critical Discourse Analysis at its best.

Teun A van Dijk
Pompeu Fabra University

This is an outstanding book. Ruth Wodak has managed to address a very wide range of countries, right-wing parties and political genres, but without sacrificing detailed and rigorous analysis. Vital reading, for students and scholars of politics and critical discourse analysis. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

John Richardson
Loughborough University

Ruth Wodak’s timely new book is both politically and intellectually important. Using close linguistic analysis and impressively deep political insight, Wodak takes apart the strategies, rhetoric and half-truths of today’s right-wing populists. All who are disturbed by current political trends in Europe and America should read The Politics of Fear.

Michael Billig
Loughborough University

European right wing populist parties insistently claim their 'normality' and have become so common place that many are tempted to believe them. In this context, with her trademark rigour and precision, Wodak gives us a fascinating insight into what makes their discourse so unique and so different from their rivals. Her compelling analysis of the linguistic construction of scapegoats and of the 'arrogance of ignorance' will influence our understanding of right wing extremism for a long time to come.

Michael Bruter
London School of Economics and Political Science

With an assured hand, Ruth Wodak takes readers into the darker corners of right-wing populism today. Complimenting her analysis of exclusionary discourse and ideology are a series of isolated key statements by leading ideologues, as well as 15 localised vignettes revealing the diverse ways in which far right parties aim to gain legitimation through scapegoating, faux-authenticity, and oftentimes hypocritical hostility to elites. The result is a finely balanced study; one that is both accessible and scholarly rigorous. The Politics of Fear’s shrewd discussion of a resurgent nationalism, xenophobia and chauvinism in diverse European and American context is timely, wide-ranging and highly recommended.

Prof. Matthew Feldman
Teesside University

In a masterful synthesis, Ruth Wodak combines argumentation theory, rhetorical and discourse-historical analysis to the resurgent discourses of right-wing populism, racism, sexism and xenophobia in Europe and the US. A highly topical  insight into and inditement of the politics of fear and exclusionism!   

Andreas Musolff
University of East Anglia

The Politics of Fear is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the rise of right wing populist parties across Europe. It combines a rich overview of politics with penetrating language analysis. Through examination of texts from a range of media – including cartoons, posters and facebook postings - Ruth Wodak raises our awareness of the full range of populist rhetorical strategies.  The author who is a renowned authority in the field enhances the accessibility of this elegantly crafted account through 15 ‘vignettes’: case studies of specific instances of right wing populist discourse.

Jonathan Charteris-Black
University of the West of England

In this very timely book, Ruth Wodak uncovers the ideological and rhetorical strategies of the contemporary radical right. The clever design of vignettes permits Wodak to dig deeply into carefully selected case studies, thereby providing details to the overall themes that are outlined in the book. This should be required reading for everyone interested in what is going on today in European politics and beyond.

Jens Rydgren
Stockholm University

Wodak takes us through the stages that led to the normalisation of nationalistic, xenophobic, racist, anti-Semitic and anti-refugee political and public discourse in the UK, Europe and the US. With such discourses playing on and with our fears, Wodak argues, we must stop being so damn scared and finally come to understand the “rhetorical traps” being set by right-wing ideologues. With the recent re-emergence of the “politics of terror”, her clearly written antidote could not be more timely.

Aniko Horvath, postdoctoral research associate in the School of Social Science and Public Policy, King’s College London
Times Higher Education: Books of 2015

Ruth Wodak's The Politics of Fear provides a vital contribution to our understanding of the current right-wing resurgence in Europe - coming just when this is needed most. Its urgent and impressive (if disturbing) analysis of how language is employed to move forward ideologies of exclusion will be of great interest to migration scholars and anyone interested in populist discourses; racism and xenophobia; or the politics of the far right in Europe.

Dr Emma L Briant
George Washington University

Select a Purchasing Option

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.