French activists to the (radical) right and the (radical) left: are they different or similar?

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Series Details Vol.20, No.2, 2018, p183-206
Publication Date April 2018
ISSN 1461-6696
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This research aims at detecting commonalities and differences between right-wing and left-wing activists. Based on 44 interviews with members of the French National Front (FN) and 88 Attac activists, I find that Attac activists are individuals with high amounts of civic skills that have been politically socialised until the age of 25. Somewhat different, my interview research indicates that the socialisation mechanisms of FN members, as well as their social and educational backgrounds are diverse.

Pertaining to the activists’ values, the two groups expose values at the opposite end of the political spectrum. Whereas left-wing activists respond to globalisation and neo-liberalism by highlighting national and international solidarity and participatory democracy, the radical right-wing members respond to the same phenomena by propagating nationalism, authoritarianism and protectionist policies.

Finally, I find that left-wing activists are driven by instrumental and ideological considerations, whereas right-wing activists are motivated by ideology as well as identity processes.

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