1st Edition

The Racialization of Sexism Men, Women and Gender in the Populist Radical Right

By Francesca Scrinzi Copyright 2024
    214 Pages
    by Routledge

    214 Pages
    by Routledge

    Populist radical right (PRR) parties are questioning women’s rights and sexual democracy. Yet paradoxically they appropriate issues of gender+ equality to attack migrants and to mobilize a growing number of women as voters and members, based on a ‘racialization of sexism’ discourse. This book engages with these puzzling developments in order to investigate the evolving ideologies of PRR parties and their understudied membership from a gender perspective. Why do men and women join these parties? How do they negotiate the gendered propaganda of their organizations? Do these parties mobilize their members in gender-specific ways? How is the PRR achieving growing political legitimacy through such renewed gendered ideologies? And how does its mainstreaming strategy articulate with gendered social change and the advent of new generations of activists?

    Drawing on a two-year comparative and intersectional study of the Lega (Nord) in Italy and the Front national (now Rassemblement national) in France, and based on life histories of over 100 activists, The Racialization of Sexism tackles how gender, at the interplay with class, ethnicity, age and religion, shapes the parties’ strategies as well as their activists’ experiences; and how gender relations are transformed in unconventional ways within these parties.

    This book will be of interest to those studying gender, as well as nationalism, racism, social movements, radical politics and party politics.


    Foreword by Kathleen Blee

    Introduction: Gender and the mainstreaming of the far right

    Chapter 1. Beyond the ‘mothers of the nation’ and the ‘brothers in arms’: Challenging the gender bias of research on the far right

    Chapter 2. The racialization of sexism: Framings of gender and sexuality in the Lega Nord and the Front national

    Chapter 3. Mobilizing women and men in the Lega Nord and the Front national

    Chapter 4. PRR women negotiating gender (in)equality and feminism

    Chapter 5. Gendered trajectories of PRR women and men: Caring for the nation

    Chapter 6. Gender reproduction and change in PRR politics

    Chapter 7. Conclusion

    Annex 1. Methodology

    Annex 2. Table. Biographical interviews: informants’ details


    Francesca Scrinzi is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Glasgow, UK. She has conducted ethnographic and comparative research on gender and populist radical right mobilizations, gendered migration, migrant care workers and migrant religions. She has published in journals such as Sociology, West European Politics, Men and Masculinities and Gender, Place and Culture. Her previous books include Migration, Masculinities and Reproductive Labour: Men of the Home, with Ester Gallo (2016) and Genre, migrations et emplois de care en France et en Italie: Construction de la non qualification et de l’altérité ethnique (Gender, Migration and Care Labour in France and Italy: The Social Construction of Skill and Cultural Otherness, 2013).

    “This fascinating book, based on intersectional and life course approaches, subtly shows how men and women in the Lega and the Rassemblement national experience and make sense of these parties' mobilisation of progressive models of femininity and masculinity to support their anti-immigration and anti-Muslim crusade. In doing so, Scrinzi makes a major contribution to reassessing the place of gender conservatism and authoritarianism in contemporary radical right ideology, and offers convincing hypotheses for the growing success of radical right parties among women, both voters and activists.”

    Olivier Fillieule, University of Lausanne, Switzerland


    “Francesca Scrinzi offers a scientific lens that makes it possible for us to understand the interplay of gender, class, age and ethnicity shaping mobilization in the Front National and the Lega Nord. Based on the findings of extensive empirical research, she eloquently demonstrates the discursive shift from nationalism to populism in relation to the changes in the use of gendered vocabulary by the right-wing populist parties. This is a timely intervention that successfully benefits from the literature on nationalism to explain the use of civilizational, religious and gendered identities by the populist radical right parties to mobilize their supporters.”

    Ayhan Kaya, Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey


    “Here’s a book that finally genders the analysis of populist radical right parties in a systematic way! Through an original and captivating theoretical framework and an incredibly rich empirical analysis of populist radical right parties in Italy and France, this book shows that these parties’ gender projects are diverse and changing as they intersect with ethnicity, class, and religious dimensions in each national context. Scrinzi effectively and convincingly shows how radical right parties exploit the discursive opportunities of each national context, that are rooted in gender, ethnicity, class, and religious legacies, to mobilize different women and men. By accurately narrating the experiences of far-right women and men inscribed within multiple intersecting social relations, the book provides readers with a thorough understanding of the diverse gendered material and cultural motivations for supporting the far right. In sum, The Racialization of Sexism is a compelling and highly recommended book for all readers interested in politics, gender, and democracy.”

    Emanuela LombardoUniversidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain


    “Based on life stories of female and male members of the Lega and the Rassemblement national, this book shows how ‘men’s’ parties can mobilize women as well, reframing gender issues to appear as defending women’s rights against the threat of Islam and migrants. An intersectional approach of the far right, brilliantly articulating gender, religion, class, ethnicity and age.”

    Nonna Mayer, Sciences Po, Paris, France


    “Using a truly feminist and intersectional approach, The Racialization of Sexism provides new and important insights into the ideological heterogeneity, internal transformation, and political mainstreaming of the contemporary populist radical right, whose relevance goes well beyond the geographical boundaries of this study (i.e. Western Europe).”

    Cas Mudde, University of Georgia, USA / Center for Research on Extremism, Norway


    “Francesca Scrinzi’s comparison of the racialization of sexism in the Italian Lega North and the French Front National is original and thought provoking. The methodological and intersectional approach demonstrates the importance of history, places, spaces for the two parties’ framings as well as for the biographies of individual activists. The concluding reflections on Lega Norths’ support for import of (female) foreign labour due to the ‘crisis of reproduction’ inspires future research on the effects of the globalization of care.”

    Birte Siim, Aalborg University, Denmark


    “This book’s dynamic analysis advances our knowledge on how gendered dualism plays out in the mobilisation of women and men by PRR parties in France and Italy. Providing ample attention to the racialised sexism of these parties, and to the gender, age and class specific emotional mobilisation of activists, Francesca Scrinzi succeeds in unpacking the racialised and gendered emotional governance of these parties.”

    Mieke Verloo, Radboud University, The Netherlands


    “This excellent and inspiring monograph finally closes an existing gap in the research on the gender politics, leadership, and membership of far-right populist parties. Francesca Scrinzi analyses the complex intersectionality of gender, class, race, generation, and religion while conducting ethnographic fieldwork, interviewing dozens of female and male party members, and collecting over a 100 life stories in Italy and France This qualitative in-depth multi-method research allows tracing transformations of gender politics over time and highlighting the influence of global neoliberal economies. This book addresses scholars and post-graduate students alike and helps with understanding some of the salient contradictions characterizing both mainstream and far-right politics.”

    Ruth Wodak, Lancaster University, UK / University Vienna, Austria