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Moral Consensus and Antiestablishment Politics




This essay argues that mainstream Left and Right parties’ convergence around the liberal moral foundations of care, fairness, and liberty most likely explains the popular discontent with establishment politicians and the ascendancy of insurgent political parties and movements in both Europe and the United States. It uses the moral consensus of two Swedish establishment parties, the Social Democratic Party and the right-wing Moderate Party, as its primary example. The convergence of those parties can be seen, for instance, in their approach to both education and immigration. The essay suggests that in order to win back wide public support, liberal Left and Right parties must become open to moral pluralism and acknowledge the legitimacy of conservative moral intuitions. Such pluralism would, in fact, be consistent with the traditions of liberalism.

Suggested Citation

  • Wennström, Johan, 2021. "Moral Consensus and Antiestablishment Politics," Working Paper Series 1389, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:1389

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Henrekson, Magnus & Wennström, Johan, 2018. "“Post-Truth” Schooling and Marketized Education: Explaining the Decline in Sweden’s School Quality," Working Paper Series 1228, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 28 Jan 2019.
    2. Henrekson, Magnus & Wennström, Johan, 2019. "‘Post-truth’ schooling and marketized education: explaining the decline in Sweden's school quality," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(5), pages 897-914, October.
    3. Wennström, Johan & Öner, Özge, 2019. "Political Hedgehogs: The Geographical Sorting of Refugees in Sweden," Working Paper Series 1266, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 27 Mar 2020.
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    More about this item


    Hedgehog–fox metaphor; Moderate Party; Moral foundations theory; Policy convergence; Social Democratic Party;
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    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • F60 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - General
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy

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