The Role of Misrecognition in Driving Support for Right-Wing Populism

Julia Elad-Strenger, Thomas Kessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Recent research suggests that citizens’ sense of being socially marginalized, or “left behind” in society, plays an important role in triggering support for right-wing populist attitudes. Although perceived misrecognition by others is thought to be a core aspect of this sense of social marginalization, the effect of (mis)recognition on citizens’ support for the populist-right, and the psychological mechanism underlying this effect, has thus far not been directly examined. Inspired by the social identity tradition, we conceptualize the establishment of subjective superiority over the elites on the one hand, and over national minorities on the other, as an identity management strategy in the face of social identity threat, triggered by perceived misrecognition by the elites. Across three studies conducted in Germany, we provide cross-sectional and experimental support for a causal model in which misrecognition, which is directed at people as “nationals” rather than as individuals, triggers contempt toward the elites and rejection of national minorities, via the perception that one’s belongingness to the nation, as a valued member thereof, is threatened (“social identity threat”). Our findings suggest that support for attitudes associated with the populist right may help citizens re-establish their valued identity as full members of the nation, in the face of those who allegedly deny or disregard it.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

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© 2024 SAGE Publications.


  • contempt
  • elites
  • minorities
  • recognition
  • right-wing populism
  • social identity


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