Right in the past, left in the future?: partisanship and politics of nostalgia

Political nostalgia has been associated more closely with conservative ideologies but voter behavior from “Obama nostalgia” in the US and nostalgia for former president Roh Moo-hyun in South Korea may suggest that it may arise in any partisan hearts and minds. This begs the following questions: are liberals and conservatives equally nostalgic for a political past? This project aims to examine partisan differences in nostalgia for a political past. In doing so, I compare partisan patterns in why individuals feel nostalgia and what they are nostalgic for. I argue symmetric political nostalgia that people on either side of ideological spectrum are equally likely to be nostalgic for a political past. The theoretical argument understands political nostalgia as consisting of two mechanisms, a reflection of individual value orientation and coping mechanism, and show that both liberals and conservatives are not different in employing both mechanisms in evoking political nostalgia. First, as individuals who seek to enhance liberal values in a society, left-leaning citizens may feel nostalgic for a leftist past when they feel distressed with the discontinued policy reforms or with the relative dominance of rightist ideology in government and society. Individuals may also resort to nostalgic sentiments as a coping mechanism in social settings when they feel negative affect or self-discontinuity in a changing society.

Sanghoon Kim
Sanghoon Kim
PhD Candidate