Hugo Chávez, populism and the emotions
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 01:34 authored by Elena Beatriz Escalante-Block
The aim of this Master of Research thesis is to examine discursive strategies deployed by populist leaders in order to garner support. The thesis uses Hugo Chávez as a case study to understand how and when the President chose certain discursive strategies to maintain his popularity. What were Hugo Chávez's discursive strategies? What emotions did he decide to use to appeal to his audience with his speeches? Did Chávez choose to 'attack' his opponents when he was lagging behind in the opinion polls? The thesis answers these questions by using theories and frameworks of emotional appeals (Brader 2006), affective intelligence (Marcus, Neumann & Mackuen 2000) and theories of populism as a form of communication (Jagers & Walgrave 2007). The study uses content analysis to identify words that appeal to either negative (fear, anger, anxiety, rage )or positive emotions (enthusiasm, pride, amusement and sympathy) and populist appeals (colloquialisms, appeals to the people and anti-elitism). The main finding shows that Chávez used anger appeals when his popularity was lower in the polls. By evoking anger, Chávez the 'communicational master' (Block 2015), was able to collectivise emotions across millions of people in Venezuela who felt at first connected emotionally and then ideologically with his Bolivarian revolution.