At home in one’s past


An appeal to a glorious past has been a prominent feature of European politics in recent years. While there are common elements to the nostalgic discourses seen across European politics, nostalgic narratives are clearly heavily mediated and contextualised by a nation’s esoteric cultural and historical background. This report sets out the findings of our qualitative and quantitative research into nostalgia in contemporary Great Britain, France and Germany – three leading European nations in which the past feels ever-present.

Methodologically, we gather in this report a large suite of academic, quantitative and qualitative research, including original surveys. In particular, we present the insights gained from an extensive suite of citizen focus groups conducted in cities and towns throughout England, France and Germany, which together provide a comprehensive illustration of the many contributing factors behind commonly held anxieties about the present, and apprehension towards the future. We contextualise these through researching the employment of nostalgia as a rhetorical device in each country’s contemporary political cultures, particularly focusing on recent political campaigns, and through interviews on this subject with leading political figures, campaigners and commentators.

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