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  • Cited by 68
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
October 2019
Print publication year:
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Book description

Anger is a powerful mobilizing force in American politics on both sides of the political aisle, but does it motivate all groups equally? This book offers a new conceptualization of anger as a political resource that mobilizes black and white Americans differentially to exacerbate political inequality. Drawing on survey data from the last forty years, experiments, and rhetoric analysis, Phoenix finds that - from Reagan to Trump - black Americans register significantly less anger than their white counterparts and that anger (in contrast to pride) has a weaker mobilizing effect on their political participation. The book examines both the causes of this and the consequences. Pointing to black Americans' tempered expectations of politics and the stigmas associated with black anger, it shows how race and lived experience moderate the emergence of emotions and their impact on behavior. The book makes multiple theoretical contributions and offers important practical insights for political strategy.


Winner, 2020 Ralph J. Bunche Award, American Political Science Association

Co-winner, 2020 Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Best Book Award, American Political Science Association.


'The title of this book rightfully connotes the theme of anger, but it is about so much more! Davin Phoenix’s thorough and nuanced analysis of the nexus of race, emotions, and political participation is a brilliant and timely contribution to the literature. Political scientists will be engaged by the discussion of political psychology, participation, and racial and ethnic politics; and Phoenix’s findings make important interventions to interdisciplinary discussions about race, anger and pessimism. I highly recommend this engaging and thought-provoking work.'

Andra Gillespie - Emory University

'The Anger Gap examines a novel question of whether racial and ethnic minorities are constrained from expressing anger about politics. Phoenix convincingly demonstrates that an anger gap between minorities and whites exists and the political cost is high. The book is original and should be of interest to students of American politics.'

Antoine Banks - University of Maryland, College Park

'In this book, Davin Phoenix argues that African Americans and white Americans do not see the same types of events and policies as equally threatening and do not react in the same way. Black citizens are more likely to respond to political threats with resignation rather than anger and are subsequently less likely to participate in electoral politics than white Americans responding to the same threats. What is particularly powerful about Phoenix’s argument is that it shows that a generalizable theory of emotion in politics needs to be contextualized by people’s experiences with politics and the political environment.'

Shana Gadarian - Syracuse University

'In this elegantly written book, Phoenix explains why African Americans are less likely than Whites to get angry over political matters - even though they arguably have more reasons to express anger. He shows, persuasively, that this anger gap has important implications for Black political participation and coalition building. I highly recommend this timely and important book.'

Vincent Hutchings - University of Michigan

‘This is a rare readable, data-driven study, one that all students of American political behavior should consume.’

R. P. Seyb Source: Choice

‘… Overall, Phoenix provides a compelling narrative about why Black Americans feel less angry and more resigned about the state of the political world.’

Shana Kushner Gadarian Source: Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics

‘The Anger Gap will continue to illuminate the unique ways that these conditions shape the political terrain for an increasingly diverse group of voters and citizens.’

Jenn M. Jackson Source: Ethnic and Racial Studies

‘... this book special and enjoyable to read.’

Bethany Albertson Source: American Politics

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