Emotions and State Power: Brexit, Trump and ‘Taking Back Control’

Emotions and State Power: Brexit, Trump and ‘Taking Back Control’

A One-Day conference organised by Roy Coleman, Madeleine Rungius and Rachel Barrett (University of Liverpool) to be held at Bluecoat Chambers Wednesday 14th June 2017. This is a free conference 9.30-6pm with a free lunch.

What can sociologists and activists tell us about the future of social justice, emotional politics and democracy in an age of Brexit, Trump and harder borders? This conference looks at the rise of public disaffection, nationalism, sexism and corporate power within modern political and civil society. Are we entering a new age of illusion and injustice as we change our democracies and public spaces in the name of ‘taking back control’? Control for whom and for what? What is the role of emotions like anger in modern politics with the likes of Trumpism and Brexit? Join us with some key sociologists for insight and discussion around these pressing questions. Speakers include Stjepan Mestrovic, Steve Tombs, Roy Coleman, Ciara Kierans, Samantha Fletcher and Daniela Tepe-Belfrage.

To book a place:

Contact Rachel Barrett:
Tel: 0151 794 2302
Email: barrettr@liverpool.ac.uk
Web: www.liverpool.ac.uk/law-and-social-justice

Or reserve your place online here: www.eventbrite.co.uk

Webpage: www.liverpool.ac.uk/law-and-social-justice/conferences-and-events/emotions-and-state-power

Featured Speakers and Topics:

The old ways are dying? The return of emotion, politics and the repressed
Roy Coleman (UoL)
Webpage: www.liverpool.ac.uk/sociology-social-policy-and-criminology/staff/roy-coleman/
Blog: emotionalstates.wordpress.com

How does emotion relate to politics and social change? Why is emotion both necessary and potentially dangerous in political and social change the likes of which we are witnessing today? Brexit and Trump victories are partly built upon a wider public sense of unfairness, anger and injustice variously aimed at ‘elites’ and ‘the political class’. The liberal form of capitalism has effectively developed institutions that have ignored or misrepresented huge swathes of the population and in doing so have sowed the seeds of this forms’ own demise. Or so it seems. For the ‘elites’ and class alliances that are seemingly under attack will reform, compromise and seek legitimacy on the back of new emotional regimes. I explore the extent to which these new emotional regimes are likely to reflect and reinforce morbid symptoms and insatiable desires built on a rejuvenated illusionary and coerced politics.

Brexit and Trump’s victory: Revolt against postemotional society?
Stjepan Mestrovic (Texas A & M)
Webpage: sociology.tamu.edu/mestrovic-stjepan

This paper will overview what is meant by postemotional society and the society of managed emotional appeals. The talk will compare Brexit with the Clinton-Trump campaigns: in both cases, the non-urban ‘deplorables’ did not fall for postemotional appeals by corporations, celebrities, the media and the establishment in general to vote the politically correct and ‘progressive’ way. In analysing the differences between Trump and Clinton it can be seen that Clinton had all the hallmarks of postemotionalism: She read from teleprompters, while Trump did not; she followed the script put forth by her advisors while he fired and changed his advisors all the time; she could not gather big crowds while he had no trouble getting crow. Along the way, I will analyze postemotional politics, the ‘nice’ postemotional smile of Clinton versus Trump’s scowl, the postemotional manipulation of trust, and postemotional scripting in campaigns. This talk concludes with a brief overview of coming elections in Europe and thoughts about the future in politics.

Taking Back Control? The state, social murder, and social protection
Steve Tombs (Open University)
Webpage: www.open.ac.uk/people/st7699

As the post-2008 rush for growth has hurtled towards a post-EU capitalism in the UK, state regulation of business continues to be framed as an economic and social problem despite the mass of evidence that much corporate activity is ever less-regulated. Meanwhile, the routine killing of tens of thousands of people in the UK as a result of corporate activity each year persists. This curious juxtaposition – which generates little or no popular nor political attention to either social protection or social murder – is the focus of my contribution.

“The best you could hope for was to keep things sh*t, that’s just messed up”: Class struggle in the age of “Brexit” and Trump
Samantha Fletcher (Open University)
Webpage: fass.open.ac.uk/people/sf9234

This paper will explore how ruling groups in advanced capitalist societies, such as the UK and the US, develop complex strategies to guard against any overthrow or reduction in their power and ability to continue to accumulate wealth by the few at the expense of the many. According to Green the distinct peculiarity of the advanced capitalist state lies in its mythical ability to represent ‘all citizens with equal legal subject hood [but that] obscures and mediates the reality of […] political economic domination’. This paper argues that the most recent US presidential election and the UK EU referendum denote a particular shift in ruling group strategy to mediate political class struggle in a very specific way. It is argued that in both cases the construction of these events caused many to have to suspend their real alternative narratives, and somewhat perversely, often channel their efforts into a fight to maintain the status quo.

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