Why Support the Radical Right? A Theory for the Social Construction of Radical Right Populist Identities
Abstract: This study develops a theory for the formation of Radical Right Populist (RRP) identities based on the theory of Social Constructivism. The identity construction theory thus proposes that three components must exist in order for RRP identities to be formed. Here, RRP identities are formed during the simultaneous actions of a top ? down and a bottom ? up process of identity formation, and once a RRP identity has begun to form within this process a charismatic and persuasive leader can initiate social change when certain conditions are present. This theory for identity construction is next tested against two different case studies including Radical Right Populist developments in both Italy and the United Kingdom. While the Italian case study focuses on the recent success of the Lega Nord in northern Italy, the UK case study outlines failures of RRP parties throughout British history, and then focuses on the recent achievements of the British National Party. Both case studies prove to be important for the theoretical analysis and contribute to the validation of a modified theory for the construction of RRP identities.
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