the emotions of
protective Policies


Emotions are particularly important in the policy process and communication of policies that aim to provide citizens and non-citizens with a feeling of security, referred to as protective policies.' While emotional needs are inherent to individuals and extend beyond the confines of the political sphere, political actors possess the ability to influence and evoke these emotions. Therefore, it becomes necessary to conceptualise emotional needs related to security within a political framework.

In light of this, PROTEMO brings together scholars from different academic backgrounds (political science, political and social psychology, public administration, sociology) to delve into the emotional dynamics of protective policies from three perspectives embedded within the policy-making process (see Fig. 1).

By focussing on the emotional aspects of protective policies from three perspectives, PROTEMO enhances the concept of 'policy responsiveness' with emotional responsiveness, thereby enriching the discourse on the future of representative democracy.

Furthermore, as we observe the increasing dominance of protective policies in an "age of insecurity," the PROTEMO team examines these policies in relation to three types of insecurities:

  • Physical insecurity, which may arise from public health crises (such as the COVID-19 pandemic), warfare, or violent crime.
  • Socio-economic insecurity, connected, for example, to structural inequalities or crises impacting the living standards of individuals.
  • Cultural insecurity, which manifests when individuals perceive their social representations of "individual and family modes of living" as being threatened by changes posed, for example, by migration, same-sex marriages, or shifts in values.

Political actors may frame a certain protective policy as the solution to one or several of the insecurity dimensions by acting as emotional entrepreneurs. Right-wing populists have excelled in creating such emotional linkages, for instance by constructing cultural and socio-economic insecurities as threats and relating them to dangerous “Others.” To take a comprehensive approach, PROTEMO integrates this understanding of emotions of insecurities with the multi-layered citizen concept. This concept views individuals as possessing various dimensions of social, economic, cultural, and political power, as well as emotional needs. Through this perspective, PROTEMO can analyse which emotions and needs come into play in forming ties, senses of belonging and exclusion, responsibilities, and rights between individuals, communities, and the state.