Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

The Advocacy of Feelings: Emotions in EU-Based Civil Society Organizations’ Strategies

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Abstract:  European Union (EU)-based Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are usually pictured as well-established professionalized actors basing their advocacy strategies on the provision of expertise. Does the focus on expertise imply the removal of emotions and feelings from political communication? Following the emotion turn in social movement and collective action studies, this article investigates how and why EU-based CSOs use emotions in their advocacy strategies. The article shows first how CSOs use rhetorical appeals to emotions and rhetorical appeals to reason in their communication. Secondly, the focus is directed to emotion-inspired advocacy strategies, namely blaming and shaming, fear-mongering and boosting. The choice of rhetorical appeals and strategies is mainly explained by three different inter-related factors: the logics of influence, the logics of membership and media logics. Empirical data is drawn from a content analysis of press releases and policy documents of environmental (climate change) and human rights (refugee crisis) CSOs active at the EU level and from semi-structured interviews with key CSO representatives.

Keywords:  civil society organizations; emotions; European Union; feelings; interest groups


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© Rosa Sanchez Salgado. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.