The Emotional Appeal of Putting America First; An interpretive case study on Trump’s foreign policy narrative and elements of emotional resonance

University essay from Malmö universitet/Kultur och samhälle

Author: Hanna Saric; [2019]

Keywords: Narratives; Emotions; Resonance; Discourse; Trump;

Abstract: Recent reports show that there is a significant number of Americans reacting favourably to the Trump administration’s “America First” foreign policy doctrine in contrast to the opinion of foreign policy experts. Since more nationalistic and unilateral policies are appealing to a wider audience than just to Trump’s core supporters, the thesis asks: Why does the “America First” foreign policy resonate with so much of the American Public? Few have examined the power of post-truth politicians to influence and shape public opinion through discourse, especially in terms of its resonance on an emotional level. This thesis analyses Trump’s foreign policy narrative and explores the elements of emotional resonance within the narrative. The thesis argues that by using a psychoanalytic narrative framework we can better understand how certain narratives work to strengthen identification with subjects and ultimately impact political decisions on a global scale. The analysis finds that Trump’s foreign policy narrative resonates and appeals to a wider audience due to its ability to appeal to the three central features of resonance. Furthermore, the thesis contributes to the IR-literature on emotions and foreign policy by broadening IR-scholarship to incorporate the under-explored issues of emotions and discourse as well as resonance for the study of various political phenomena’s and foreign policy discourses.

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