In this article, I draw on ethnographic data from previous fieldworks among Turkish immigrant families in a Norwegian suburb (2008–2009) and, more recently, on preventative actions against radicalization (2015–2016). As point of departure, I outline two events considered morally outrageous by many of my interlocutors: the Gaza War (2008–2009) and the repression of the Syrian civil uprising in 2011. By contextualizing moral outrage and analyzing certain incidents as “triggers” among people who are already outraged, I aim at providing a better understanding of that emotion’s generic power. I will also give an example of how a “trigger” incident can provide an emotional outlet. In seeing moral outrage as a kind of “prism” through which people negotiate values around right and wrong, good and bad, I will argue that these negotiations might as well result in generating emotional relief and to restored integrity.
The Generative Power of Political Emotions
Mette-Louise Johansen, Therese Sandrup and Nerina Weiss
Moral outrage has until now been conceptualized as a call to action, a reaction to injustice and transgressions, and a forceful motor for democratic participation, acts of civil disobedience, and violent and illicit action. This introduction goes beyond linear causality between trigger events, political emotions, and actions to explore moral outrage as it is experienced and expressed in contexts of political violence, providing a better understanding of that emotion’s generic power. Moral outrage is here understood as a multidimensional emotion that may occur momentarily and instantly, and exist as an enduring process and being-in-the-world, based on intergenerational experiences of violence, state histories, or local contexts of fear and anxiety. Because it appears in the intersubjective field, moral outrage is central for identity politics and social positioning, so we show how moral outrage may be a prism to investigate and understand social processes such as mobilization, collectivities, moral positioning and responsiveness, and political violence.