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Anxious Politics
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Emotions matter in politics - enthusiastic supporters return politicians to office, angry citizens march in the streets, a fearful public demands protection from the government. Anxious Politics explores the emotional life of politics, with particular emphasis on how political anxieties affect public life. When the world is scary, when politics is passionate, when the citizenry is anxious, does this politics resemble politics under more serene conditions? If politicians use threatening appeals to persuade citizens, how does the public respond? Anxious Politics argues that political anxiety triggers engagement in politics in ways that are potentially both promising and damaging for democracy. Using four substantive policy areas (public health, immigration, terrorism, and climate change), the book seeks to demonstrate that anxiety affects how we consume political news, who we trust, and what politics we support. Anxiety about politics triggers coping strategies in the political world, where these strategies are often shaped by partisan agendas.


'This is a monumental contribution that is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary American politics. The authors not only fundamentally advance academic knowledge about anxiety and public opinion but also offer critical insights into issues of the utmost importance (e.g., immigration, climate change, terrorism, etc.). The book will clearly shape future research agendas and ongoing policy discussions.'

James N. Druckman - Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University, Illinois

'Albertson and Gadarian marshal an impressive array of evidence to demonstrate how anxiety shapes the behavior of citizens for both better and worse, how it can transcend and yet bend to partisan politics. Anxious Politics offers the most in-depth investigation into the political effects of anxiety to date and advances critical amendments to earlier scientific accounts. This is essential reading for understanding why attempts to stir up political fears can by turns promote democratic citizenship, subvert it, and fall on deaf ears.'

Ted Brader - University of Michigan

'How do political communications that foster feelings of threat and insecurity influence citizens - how and what they learn, who they trust, and what policies they advocate? Anxious Politics offers a compelling set of answers to these important questions through experimental analyses that range widely across issues, context, and message form. Anyone with an interest in public opinion should read this book.'

Laura Stoker - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

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  • 1 - Anxiety in Democratic Life
    pp 1-18
  • 6 - Anxiety and Democratic Citizenship
    pp 138-156
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