Becoming Politically Discontented: Anti-establishment careers of Dutch nonvoters and PVV-voters

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Popular political discontent has become increasingly salient in western countries in recent decades, as can be witnessed by the rise of populist anti-establishment parties, nonvoting and increasing distrust in politics. However, these phenomena have predominantly been treated as ‘democracy’s deviants’, neglecting the perspectives of the people concerned. Taking an inductive approach, this article examines how ordinary citizens come to turn away from established politics. Drawing on in-depth interviews with politically discontented Dutch nonvoters and PVV voters, the article develops a three-stage ‘anti-establishment career’ – ‘introduction’, ‘validation’ and ‘consolidation’ – through which their conceptions of politics gradually change. This deviant career model takes into account the dynamics and agency involved in the process, in contrast to conceptions of discontented citizens as utterly passive and anomic. The article concludes by arguing for more cultural-sociological sensitivity in the use of concepts referring to social-political action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-774
Number of pages18
JournalCurrent Sociology (International Sociological Association)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2015

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