Social & Cultural Geography, 13(6) pp 567-585
The role of emotion in social movement mobilization and political protest has received renewed attention in the past decade. However, few, if any, studies have followed the emotional trajectories of activists through their involvement in protest activity. This paper explores the significance of emotion in rural protests in Britain since 1997. Drawing on first-hand and second-hand sources, it focuses on the emotions of participants in pro-hunting countryside marches and in farmers’ demonstrations as they move through various stages of mobilization. It proposes the metaphor of a ‘ladder of emotions’ to describe the different emotions that are foregrounded as mobilization proceeds. It suggests that emotional responses to perceived threats to a landscape or place-rooted way of life to which individuals have an emotional attachment are important as motives for political mobilization. These individual emotions are subsequently translated into collective action as emotions such as anger, frustration and desperation guide pathways for action. Successful mobilization also relies on participants overcoming initial emotions of fear or trepidation at protest activity, giving way to emotions of pleasure and pride that enthuse activists and help reproduce and sustain campaigns.