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By 26/09/2022Janeiro 1st, 2023No Comments

By Cristiano Gianolla

A political mythology is a distinct narrative account of symbols that are based on facts, figures, assessments and ideas and create collective signification and motivation to action. It is anchored to the past, explains the present and moves people to find solutions to concrete socio-political issues. Political mythologies are discursive constructions that create and enforce social and political identities operationalised to generate or strengthen acceptability for political aggregation and representation. As opposed to complex theoretical constructions, they entail a strong relation with contingency, mobilise emotions and facilitate popular understanding and identification. They are constructed by sets of myths, which are meaningful stories with specific purposes that mediate individual and collective imagination giving it a real consistency. Myths are source of their own truth, may be related to specific interpretations of social or historical facts.

Political mythologies serve to create a discursive connection between historical, social, political and cultural facts and contexts, with distinct political assessments and ideas. They are portrayed from a specific standpoint that claims the authenticity against alternative accounts attempting to their authenticity. Political mythologies are understood and analysed for what they achieve in the present through their rational, emotional and behavioural impact, which provides the horizon of action and organisation of a political community.

The rationalist approach to myth disqualifies them as irrational, false and primitivist, conducted by emotional (as opposed to rational) attachment, building on the dualism between reason and emotion and reinforcing the epistemological hierarchy among them. By contrast, by accepting the non-dualism of reason and emotion – and therefore also rejecting the dualism between reason and myth. Political mythologies overcome the distinction of modern and traditional (or primitive) and can be adopted to understand and characterise modern politics. This implies that political mythologies are fundamental narrative structures to understand the interplay of reason and emotion in politics.

Political Mythologies are dynamic, the constituting myths can be reframed, attenuated or recreated and the narrative that connects them change for political purposes. Political mythologies are prone to be reengineered and reorganised according to the different needs in specific socio-political contexts and in different times. The mobilisation of political mythologies can have a range of political objectives, from the creation and stratification of dynastic power to the implantation of colonial domination, or to contribute to the construction of the European Union. In liberal democratic system they are used to build a community of represented, which may contribute to the success of a specific movement or party.

Related References

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Cite this entry as:

Gianolla, Cristiano. 2022. ‘Political Mythology’. In Populisms and Emotions Glossary, edited by Cristiano Gianolla and Maíra Magalhães Lopes. Available atário