The rise of far-right parties in many parts of the world threatens the work of human rights and social justice NGOs. In 2016, Oxfam first analyzed the electoral ascendancy of far-right populist political parties, and the charismatic leaders representing far-right movements. This analysis concluded that civil society organizations working on human rights and social justice issues, both domestically and in the fields of international development and humanitarian response, must prioritize understanding the narratives and discourses the far- right uses to attract supporters and advance its political agenda. That far-right messaging and movements are polarizing political debates is clear; there is less clarity about the affective appeals and cognitive frames deployed to engineer this polarization.

This report was commissioned to examine the ways in which varying narratives and tropes of masculinity and femininity have both shaped and been used by the far-right in its mobilization of support and polarization of debate. It follows the academic literature in identifying ethnonationalism as the unifying ideology of a heterogeneous political tendency that can be collectively referred to as the “far- right”. The use of the descriptor “far-right” also serves to designate those parties and formations which have engineered the entry of extremism into the mainstream, by rejecting both the traditional center-right establishment in politics and the violent extremism of openly anti-democratic groups and individuals. The nativism and authoritarianism of the far-right should be regarded as a “pathological normalcy” and a “radicalisation of mainstream values.”

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