A Clemson University professor has co-authored a new book examining the worldwide surge in political discontent following the 2008 financial crisis.
Co-authored by Matt Rhodes-Purdy, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, Rachel Navarre and Stephen Utych, “The Age of Discontent” explores how cultural issues, not economic grievances, were the driving force of political discontent following the 2008 financial crisis – despite the timing.
“People have predictable emotional reactions like anxiety and anger during an economic crisis, and those emotions can trigger aggressive responses in an attempt to restore social normalcy,” said Rhodes-Purdy. “When people are bombarded with political messages – which is common during economic turmoil – the result is often cultural discontent. Our book investigates this causal relationship and offers solutions for mitigating political discontent in the future.”
Using a mixed-method approach, Rhodes-Purdy and his co-authors examine the pattern of economic crises and subsequent cultural fallout throughout the history of the democratic world in an attempt to better understand why cultural discontent emerges after a financial collapse.
Based on findings, the book demonstrates that emotions run high during economic crises, intensifying conflicts over values and identities, and argues that states must fulfill their roles as providers of social insurance and establish channels for citizen voices in order to diffuse political discontent.
Rhodes-Purdy said the book is unique among others of its kind because it is an ambitious multi-country study of both positive and negative cases of political discontent, and it offers practical solutions to a number of issues surrounding the discontented political movement.
Jeff Peake, chair of the Department of Political Science, said “The Age of Discontent” asks important questions about political discontent, an issue that is consistent across all ideologies and cultures, and offers applicable solutions for change.
“Dr. Rhodes-Purdy has done excellent work in his new book, and I am confident it will serve as an essential resource for political scientists across the country and world,” said Peake. “We can all benefit from his expertise, and he is an asset to our department, University and the field of political science as a whole.”
The Department of Political Science is part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, a 21st-century land-grant college joining together a unique combination of schools and departments: Communication, Nursing, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, Political Science, Psychology, Public Health Sciences and Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice. These areas have distinctive characteristics and missions – all joined together by a common thread of service to people and communities.
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