Populist stories of honest men and proud mothers: A visual narrative analysis

Katja Freistein, Frank Gadinger

Online veröffentlicht von Cambridge University Press, Dezember 2019

Stichwörter: Political Storytelling; Images; Visual Narrative Analysis; Gender; Populism

DOI: 10.1017/S0260210519000421


This article proposes the methodological framework of visual narrative analysis through the study of images and narratives. We are interested in the appeal of political storytelling. In applying an approach of layered interpretation, we study images and slogans to consider the more complex underlying narratives in their political and cultural context. Our exploratory case studies draw on material from right-wing populist parties, namely election campaign posters from Germany and the UK as material for the analysis. We find that narratives operate with a ‘fantasmatic logic’, which adds fantasy to politics, to depoliticise and camouflage their radical intent and gain approval by making consent desirable. We identify two exemplary narratives (honest men under threat; proud mothers) that entrench traditional gender roles in accordance with patriarchy and nationalism. Theoretically, our approach contributes to debates in IR on cultural underpinnings in international politics and the construction of collective identities through shared/divided narratives. Visual narrative analysis provides a promising methodological tool for analysing visual representations in their productive relationship with text. This perspective foregrounds the power of political storytelling through fantasmatic appeal and fosters a better understanding of the global rise of populism.


Die Autoren

Katja Freistein ist Research Group Leader am Centre for Global Cooperation Research/Universität Duisburg-Essen. Ihre Forschungsschwerpunkte liegen in den Bereichen der internationalen Organisationen, Entwicklung und globalen Ungleichheiten sowie Diskurs- und Narrativanalyse. Sie hat in Third World Quarterly, Global Society, Journal of International Relations and Development, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis und Security Studies veröffentlicht.

Frank Gadinger ist Research Group Leader am Centre for Global Cooperation Research/Universität Duisburg-Essen. Seine Forschungsschwerpunkte liegen in der Praxis der Internationalen Beziehungen, politischen Erzählungen, visueller globaler Politik, Global Governance und dem Aufstieg des Populismus. Vor kurzem veröffentlichte er die zweite Ausgabe des Buches International Practice Theory (mit Christian Bueger) von Palgrave MacMillan. Seine Publikationen erschienen in Zeitschriften wie International Political Sociology; International Studies Quarterly; Cambridge Review of International Affairs; Leviathan; and International Studies Perspectives.