Anna Guildea is a PhD student at the department of Political Science and Sociology at the Scuola Normale Superiore based in Florence, Italy. Her PhD project examines the relationship between deindustrialisation and masculinity – specifically in relation to far-right voting in Western European countries. From 2021-2023 she was a Yenching Scholar at Peking University where she studied the political economy of labour demand in China’s increasingly-automating manufacturing and industrial sectors. She also has an MSc in International Political Economy from University College Dublin, where she wrote her thesis on the ‘anomalous’ absence of a far-right electoral presence in Ireland, comparing Ireland’s unique economic history to experiences of deindustrialisation among it’s continental counterparts. Her professional experiences include working as a Policy Researcher at the European Centre for International Political Economy, and at the Irish delegation to the OECD.


Masculinity, Occupational Transformation and Support for the Populist Far-Right: A Constructivist Political Economy Analysis

There is now a nationalist populist presence altering established patterns of party competition in almost every Western Democracy, with almost all emanating from the right. In recent years, there has been an emergence of substantive literature from the field of political economy linking global economic transformation and its impact on employment, occupational structure, and skill distribution in national labour forces to support for the populist radical-right (PRR). This literature has displayed a clear positive relationship between a perceived decline in subjective social status arising from occupational transformation in certain cohorts of the national labour force – generally differentiated by ‘skill level’ – and support for the PRR. Accompanying this, there has been significant growth in contemporary literature positioning the use of a gendered framework – specifically, masculinity – as a crucial analytical lens to understanding the rise of the PRR both in terms of the content and objectives of PRR parties, and in relation to the ‘gender gap’ in PRR voting and the importance of ‘traditional masculinity’ to the PRR electorate. This research will also make use of literature that has highlighted the relationship between masculinity and occupational transformation: that the experience of economic, and consequentially, occupational change cannot be understood without relation to gender, and furthermore, that to ‘reduce’ support for the PRR to consequences of economic change fails to contemplate that gendered cohorts may exhibit different political behaviour in the face of occupational change because employment and unemployment are gendered experiences. Via a comparative, constructivist political economy analysis, this research hopes to triangulate a critical analytical category of masculinity, in how it has shaped the modern global economy, how economic transformation in turn shapes local masculinities, and how these mutually constitutive processes lead to a perceived decline in social status among those in specific occupational sectors, which, this research hopes, can aid us in addressing the question: why are some segments of national populations more susceptible than others to the appeal of the PRR.