While it is widely acknowledged that politics and politicians have fallen from grace among large parts of the public in western democracies, it is less clear what the latter’s political discontents are about. To find out, we performed an interpretative content analysis of the letters to the editor of the largest popular Dutch newspaper in the 2000s (2000–2009).

It yielded three empirically grounded discourses of political discontents about ‘the state’—shorthand for the government, its agencies, officials, judges, politicians and political parties—‘the incompetent state’, ‘the alienated state’ and ‘the corrupted state’. The relevance of these findings is subsequently discussed in the light of research on political distrust and contemporary populism.

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doi.org/10.1093/pa/gst036, hdl.handle.net/1765/50303
Centre for Rotterdam Cultural Sociology (CROCUS)
Parliamentary Affairs
Department of Sociology

Kemmers, R, Aupers, S.D, Houtman, D, & van der Waal, J. (2014). State of Disgrace: Popular Political Discontents about the Dutch State in the 2000s. Parliamentary Affairs, 68(3), 476–493. doi:10.1093/pa/gst036