Many observers have noticed the importance of anger in contemporary politics, particularly with reference to populism. The talk addresses the question under which conditions people become angry about a specific aspect of their lives: their personal financial situation. Specifically, it asks if populist anti-elite rhetoric has a causal influence on ‘pocketbook anger’ and if this influence differs across socio-economic groups. The theoretical expectation is that anti-elite rhetoric makes it easier for people to externalize responsibility for an unfavorable financial situation and thereby to turn negative self-conscious emotions into anger. The argument is tested with original survey data from France, Germany, and the United States. The empirical analysis yields three main insights. First, negative emotional reactions to respondents’ personal finances are surprisingly widespread. Second, there is a pronounced socio-economic gradient in the distribution of anger. Third, randomly exposing participants to anti-elite rhetoric in many cases causes higher expressed anger about one’s financial situation.
The Political Science Seminar Series is convened by Andy Eggers, Ezequiel Gonzalez Ocantos and David Rueda. For more information on this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact email@example.com.