Psychosocial approach: Communication and social listening in polarised contexts
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Fabricating the social conflict

In the complex tapestry of contemporary society, the art of fabricating social conflict has become a recurring tool employed by populist politicians and media outlets alike. Through calculated communication tactics, they sow the seeds of discord by harnessing the power of emotion and constructing a dichotomy between “us” and “them.” In doing so, they seek to foster a collective sense of unity and nationalistic pride while simultaneously demonising those who deviate from their prescribed ideology.

Picture: Wouter Engler, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The effectiveness of this strategy is heightened when accompanied by skillful emotional manipulation and strategic appeals to patriotism and nationalism. In the forthcoming chapter, we shall delve deeper into these intricate communication strategies and meticulously examine their profound influence on the perpetuation of social disharmony.

The role of emotional appeals

A crucial aspect to explore is the role of emotional appeals in the construction of social conflict. Populist figures deftly employ rhetoric infused with emotional resonance, tapping into the deep-rooted sentiments of the populace. Through the skillful manipulation of fear, anger, or a sense of victimhood, they succeed in mobilising individuals to unite in support of their cause. This amplifies divisions within society and nurtures an atmosphere of hostility towards those they perceive as adversaries.

Central to the manufacture of social conflict is the narrative of “us versus them.” Populists skillfully create an imagined dichotomy, delineating a clear distinction between the virtuous in-group and the vilified out-group. This narrative provides a framework through which individuals perceive themselves as part of an exclusive collective, protecting their identity, values, and way of life from perceived external threats. The construction of this divisive narrative fosters an environment where prejudice, discrimination, and social fragmentation flourish.

Nationalism and patriotism as means in manufactured conflicts

Additionally, the invocation of nationalism and patriotism plays a pivotal role in shaping public perception and mobilising support for manufactured conflicts. Populists artfully tap into deep-rooted patriotic sentiments, positioning themselves as champions of national identity and defenders of traditional values. Through the invocation of a shared sense of belonging and the presentation of a perceived threat to the nation, they craft a narrative that deeply resonates with individuals seeking stability and protection. This strategic manipulation of nationalism and patriotism fosters a stronger bond among group members, thereby perpetuating social conflict.

In dissecting the intricate web of communication strategies utilised to fabricate social conflict, we gain critical insights into the dynamics that underpin societal divisions.

As we navigate the complexities of contemporary society, it becomes increasingly vital to critically evaluate the messages we encounter, question the motives behind their construction, and strive for an informed understanding that transcends manufactured divisions.

Fabricating the social conflict
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