A Psychosocial Study of Political Followership: The Case of the Young Corbynites

Authors: Yates, C.


Journal: Journal of Psychosocial Studies

Volume: 11

Issue: 2

Pages: 1-32

ISSN: 1478-6737

This article presents a new Psychosocial approach to the concept of political followership by focusing on the appeal for young people of UK Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn during the 2015 Labour Leadership contest. Whilst there is an established field of political leadership studies, the psychosocial dynamics of political followership has received less attention. We argue that in the current era of rapid change and of social, economic and political crises, there is a need to develop a nuanced understanding of the affective turn in political engagement within social democratic countries. We trace the emergence of a new interest in political followership and present an innovative psychosocial perspective that draws on relational psychoanalysis to explore the psychosocial complexity of the relationship between follower and leader and the unconscious dynamics that underpin it. Drawing on the findings of focus group interviews into political followership, the article elaborates on these ideas through their application to the analysis of UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and his appeal for young followers who joined the party because his political image, ethos and values chimed in with the post-materialistic ethos of the younger generation.

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