Research Political Sciences

Never at a LOSS Again in Understanding the Support for Conservative Political Agendas

, by Fabio Todesco
The ERC winning project by Catherine De Vries, a new Full Professor at Bocconi's Department of Social and Political Sciences, investigates the link between economic hardship and the support for far right parties

Catherine De Vries has joined Bocconi's Department of Social and Political Sciences on 1 January, 2020 as a Full Professor, bringing to Milan an ERC Consolidator Grant, won in December for her research project LOSS (Narratives of Loss: Unravelling the Origins of Support for Socially Conservative Political Agendas).

«While aggregate level evidence suggests that financial crises generally coincide with increased support for far-right parties», Prof. de Vries writes, «we do not understand why this happens». Building on insights from political science, sociology, social psychology and behavioral economics, the LOSS project contends that experiences of economic hardship translate into specific narratives of loss that, in turn, trigger support for conservative political agendas aimed at restricting the rights of marginalized groups (ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, migrants, LGTBQIA+ and women).

The project employs an innovative, multimethod empirical research combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies. To uncover the role of context, it furthermore compares five European countries (Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK) that vary in the level of compensation provided for economic hardship, and local contexts within these countries.

«The results of our project», Prof. de Vries concludes, «will be of great relevance to societal and policy debates about the status of marginalized groups in society, social cohesion, and welfare provisions».