Vol. 681, January 2019
This volume of The ANNALS, “Polarizing Polities: A Global Threat to Democracy,” special editors Jennifer McCoy and Murat Somer gather scholars to explore eleven country case studies of pernicious polarization, and its resulting obstinate political blocs and its effects on democracy. By examining the emotional and identity facets of polarization and the role of political entrepreneurs who use polarizing discourse for their own instrumental ends, this volume offers insight into the causes of pernicious polarization and possible policies to prevent it.
The conventional approach to the study of polarization primarily addresses the distance and difference between voters or political parties on policy issues. Societies become “perniciously” polarized when they divide into mutually antagonistic “Us vs. Them” camps and this antagonism extends into social relationships and becomes part of one’s social identity. Loyalty and alignment to one’s own camp can result in a self-perpetuating logic that potentially undermines democratic norms.