The Development of an Affective Disposition Towards Immigration in Donald Trump's Speeches

Monday, 16 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Silvia GUTIERREZ, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-X, México, Mexico
Following the Sociology of emotions as a theoretical perspective and discourse analysis as a methodological tool, we analyze the argumentative strategies used to build a collective anti-immigrant feeling in a selection of speeches of the former presidential candidate Donald Trump. We emphasize the anti-immigrant content based on two reasons: 1) it constitutes a key articulation axis of the populist appeal of the nowadays president of the United States; 2) far beyond de North American scenery, international migration constitutes a global fact with strong emotive shades which has acquired tragic proportions in the second decade of the 21st century.

The empirical information comes from an extensive database gathered in the frame of mayor research. Taking as a starting point the assumption that emotions are a central part of the judgments we make, we point out the exaltation of hatred, distrust fear and resentment as affective collective dispositions towards international immigration, which is in a great scale merely Mexican. From the point of view of the Sociology of emotions such states constitute convergent affective and synchronous answers of collective nature (von Scheve e Ismer, 2012), that on the one hand, stigmatize the foreigners (aliens) as enemies, and on the other, promote cohesion among those who feel aggravated.

From the preliminary analysis of the data, three recurrent argumentative strategies used in the development of the above mentioned hostile disposition, emerge: 1) the stereotyped construction of the referent (the “other”, the immigrant), 2) the use of metaphors in order to re-direct and to intensify the perception of risk; 3) the exemplary narratives that anticipate and apocalyptic ending.


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Von Scheve, C and Ismer S (2012), “Towards a Theory of Collective Emotions”, Emotion Review, vol. 5, no.4, 406-413