Expectations of the Future As Motivation in New Rightist Movements

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 15:15
Oral Presentation
Johanna FROEHLICH, University of Oldenburg, Germany, Germany
Social movement research focused for quite a long time on movements aiming at progressive and democratic social change. However, there has been little to no sociological interest for rightist movements and their aspirations, even though certain similarities are obvious: the struggle for an alternative future through the medium of protest. The major distinction lies in the assessment of past, present and future. In contrast to many left-wing-movements, right wing movements rate present and especially the past as rather positive -- the future however as fundamentally threatening. Thus, the struggle for an alternative future is focused on preserving the past against the perceived threats.

In my contribution I analyze to what extent the perception of the threatening future motivates new-rightist-activists in Germany to commit specific actions. My analysis is based on Gesa Lindemann's concept of care. According to Lindemann the motivation to act is always connected to the specific reference to the subjective relevant future, which the self expects. The person gets confronted with the potential failure of the future and gets motivated to act in order to prevent the future failure. This present motivation is called to care. The concept of care rests on the subjectively perceived relevancy of the future: If the potential failure of the future does not affect the person, he or she will not care.

This implies that for my analysis I need to investigate how individual activists perceive themselves as affected by the threatening future. Therefore, I conducted an ethnographic field research for several months. I observed four new-rightist-groups at informal gatherings, training and political actions like demonstrations. Furthermore, I interviewed key participants and evaluated public self-representations. The qualitative data were coded based on the grounded theory.