Emotions Before Paradigms: Elite Anxiety and Populist Resentment from the Asian to Subprime Crises

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Title Emotions Before Paradigms: Elite Anxiety and Populist Resentment from the Asian to Subprime Crises
Author Widmaier, Wesley
Journal Name Millennium
Year Published 2010
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Sage Publications
Abstract Emotional forces shape not only market tendencies to “manias, panics and crashes,” but also policy debates as they predispose agents to definitions of state and societal interests. Nevertheless, IR scholars often downplay emotional influences, casting them as secondary to coalitional or cognitive forces. In this paper, I address these limitations by disaggregating intersubjective understandings into popularly-resonant traditions of thought and elite-based paradigmatic frameworks. Drawing on the insights of Reinhold Niebuhr and Richard Hofstadter, I then argue that elite anxieties regarding populism can engender the “technocratic repression” of emotion from paradigmatic debates in ways that paradoxically render policy less stable and pragmatic. First, such repression obscures the emotional bases of market trends and engenders overconfidence in the ability of monetary fine tuning to restrain manias and to contain panics. Secondly, in isolating paradigmatic debate from everyday language, technocratic repression frustrates deliberation and can exacerbate populist resentments, requiring the construction of crises to advance change. Shifting to an empirical focus, I suggest that tendencies to technocratic repression in the 1990s and early twenty-first century engendered overconfidence in monetary fine tuning. In the post-subprime context, the key question is the extent to which this bias in favor of monetary policy has been reversed, or whether constructions of the subprime crisis have legitimated a revived regulatory stress. In sum, this analysis highlights the reality of emotion as an influence on the international political economy.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Alternative URI http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0305829810372693
Volume 39
Issue Number 1
Page from 127
Page to 144
ISSN 0305-8298
Date Accessioned 2010-09-29
Language en_AU
Research Centre Centre for Governance and Public Policy; Griffith Asia Institute
Faculty Griffith Business School
Subject International Relations
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10072/34384
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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