Volume 21, Issue 6
  • ISSN 1569-2159
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9862
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



The far right has launched its own particular crusade against gender-neutral language (GNL). In this article, I examine how the parties Rassemblement National, in France, and Vox, in Spain, instrumentalise discursively their opposition to GNL as part of their overall political strategy of confronting social change. By using a culture war framework, I critically analyse the connections between the polarised representations of language and those of other fronts of cultural conflict that the far right directs against adversary groups. I show that both political parties have co-opted language into the culture wars they pursue on other fronts, albeit with significant differences. I argue that in addition to the idea of a single overall struggle based on moral differences and cultural cleavages, culture wars are also to be understood as interconnected fronts in different spheres of contention that the far right strategically exploits.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Académie Française
    Académie Française 2017 “Déclaration de l’Académie française sur l’écriture dite ‘inclusive’.” Declaration of the Académie Française, 26October 2017 www.academie-francaise.fr/actualites/declaration-de-lacademie-francaise-sur-lecriture-dite-inclusive
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Akkerman, Tjitske, Sarah L. de Lange, and Matthijs Rooduijn
    eds. 2016Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties in Western Europe: Into the Mainstream?Milton Park: Routledge. 10.4324/9781315687988
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315687988 [Google Scholar]
  3. Andrus, Jennifer
    2012 “Language Ideology, Fractal Recursivity, and Discursive Agency in the Legal Construction of Linguistic Evidence.” Language in Society41 (5): 589–614. 10.1017/S0047404512000668
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404512000668 [Google Scholar]
  4. Bain, J. Grant
    2010 “Culture Wars.” InThe Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory, ed. byMichael Ryan, vol.3, Cultural Theory, A–Z. Wiley Online Library. 10.1002/9781444337839.wbelctv3c017
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444337839.wbelctv3c017 [Google Scholar]
  5. Betz, Hans-Georg, and Carol Johnson
    2004 “Against the Current – Stemming the Tide: The Nostalgic Ideology of the Contemporary Radical Populist Right.” Journal of Political Ideologies9 (3): 311–327. 10.1080/1356931042000263546
    https://doi.org/10.1080/1356931042000263546 [Google Scholar]
  6. Blommaert, Jan
    ed. 1999Language Ideological Debates. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110808049
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110808049 [Google Scholar]
  7. Brubaker, Rogers
    2017 “Why Populism?” Theory and Society46 (5): 357–385. 10.1007/s11186‑017‑9301‑7
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11186-017-9301-7 [Google Scholar]
  8. Bruzos, Alberto, Iker Erdocia, and Kamran Khan
    2018 “The Path to Naturalization in Spain: Old Ideologies, New Language Testing Regimes and the Problem of Test Use.” Language Policy17 (4): 419–441. 10.1007/s10993‑017‑9452‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10993-017-9452-4 [Google Scholar]
  9. Busbridge, Rachel, Benjamin Moffitt, and Joshua Thorburn
    2020 “Cultural Marxism: Far-Right Conspiracy Theory in Australia’s Culture Wars.” Social Identities26 (6): 722–738. 10.1080/13504630.2020.1787822
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13504630.2020.1787822 [Google Scholar]
  10. Castle, Jeremiah
    2019 “New Fronts in the Culture Wars? Religion, Partisanship, and Polarization on Religious Liberty and Transgender Rights in the United States.” American Politics Research47 (3): 650–679. 10.1177/1532673X18818169
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1532673X18818169 [Google Scholar]
  11. Davis, Mark
    2019 “A New, Online Culture War? The Communication World of Breitbart.com.” Communication Research and Practice5 (3): 241–254. 10.1080/22041451.2018.1558790
    https://doi.org/10.1080/22041451.2018.1558790 [Google Scholar]
  12. Elgenius, Gabriella, and Jens Rydgren
    2019 “Frames of Nostalgia and Belonging: The Resurgence of Ethno-Nationalism in Sweden.” European Societies21 (4): 583–602. 10.1080/14616696.2018.1494297
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14616696.2018.1494297 [Google Scholar]
  13. Erdocia, Iker
    2020 “Language Rights and Groups of Immigrant Origin: The Case of Language Claims in the Spanish Cities in North Africa.” Language Problems and Language Planning44 (2): 146–169. 10.1075/lplp.19025.erd
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lplp.19025.erd [Google Scholar]
  14. 2021 “Participation and Deliberation in Language Policy: The Case of Gender-Neutral Language.” Current Issues in Language Planning. 10.1080/14664208.2021.2005385
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14664208.2021.2005385 [Google Scholar]
  15. Ferreira, Carles
    2019 “Vox as Representative of the Radical Right in Spain: A Study of Its Ideology.” Revista Española de Ciencia Política51: 73–98. 10.21308/recp.51.03
    https://doi.org/10.21308/recp.51.03 [Google Scholar]
  16. Forchtner, Bernhard
    ed. 2020The Far Right and the Environment: Politics, Discourse and Communication. New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Gal, Susan
    2002 “A Semiotics of the Public/Private Distinction.” Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies13: 77–95. 10.1215/10407391‑13‑1‑77
    https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-13-1-77 [Google Scholar]
  18. Gal, Susan, Kathryn A. Woolard
    (eds.) 2001Language and Publics: The making of authority. Manchester: St Jerome.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Griffin, Roger
    1999 “Last Rights?” InThe Radical Right in Central and Eastern Europe since 1989, ed. bySabrina P. Ramet, 297–321. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Hunter, James D.
    1991Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. New York: Basic.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. 1994Before the Shooting Begins: Searching for Democracy in America’s Culture War. New York: Simon and Schuster.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Irvine, Judith T., and Susan Gal
    2000 “Language Ideology and Linguistic Differentiation.” InRegimes of Language: Ideologies, Polities, and Identities, ed. byPaul V. Kroskrity, 35–84. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Ivaldi, Gilles
    2016 “A New Course for the French Radical-Right? The Front National and ‘De-Demonization’.” InRight-Wing Populist Parties in Western Europe: Into the Mainstream?, ed. byTjitske Akkerman, Sarah de Lange, and Matthijs Rooduijn, 231–253. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Kallis, Aristotle
    2018 “The Radical Right and Islamophobia”. InThe Oxford Handbook of the Radical Right, ed. byJens Rydgren, 42–60. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Krzyżanowski, Michał
    2020 “Discursive Shifts and the Normalisation of Racism: Imaginaries of Immigration, Moral Panics and the Discourse of Contemporary Right-Wing Populism.” Social Semiotics30 (4): 503–527. 10.1080/10350330.2020.1766199
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10350330.2020.1766199 [Google Scholar]
  26. Krzyżanowski, Michał, and Per Ledin
    2017 “Uncivility on the Web: Populism in/and the Borderline Discourses of Exclusion.” Journal of Language and Politics16 (4): 566–581. 10.1075/jlp.17028.krz
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlp.17028.krz [Google Scholar]
  27. Laclau, Ernesto
    1996Emancipation(s). London: Verso.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Miller-Idriss, Cynthia, and Hillary Pilkington
    2017 “In Search of the Missing Link: Gender, Education and the Radical Right.” Gender and Education29 (2): 133–146. 10.1080/09540253.2017.1274116
    https://doi.org/10.1080/09540253.2017.1274116 [Google Scholar]
  29. Minkenberg, Michael
    2000 “The Renewal of the Radical Right: Between Modernity and Anti-Modernity.” Government and Opposition35 (2):170–188. 10.1111/1477‑7053.00022
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1477-7053.00022 [Google Scholar]
  30. Mondon, Aurelien, and Aaron Winter
    2020Reactionary Democracy: How Racism and the Populist Far Right Became Mainstream. London and New York: Verso.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Mudde, Cas
    2007Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511492037
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511492037 [Google Scholar]
  32. Norris, Pippa, and Ronald Inglehart
    2019Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit, and Authoritarian Populism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/9781108595841
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108595841 [Google Scholar]
  33. Pauwels, Anne
    2003 “Linguistic Sexism and Feminist Linguistic Activism.” InThe Handbook of Language and Gender, ed. byJanet Holmes and Miriam Meyerhoff, 550–572. Oxford: Blackwell. 10.1002/9780470756942.ch24
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470756942.ch24 [Google Scholar]
  34. Parks, Janet B., and Mary A. Roberton
    1998 “Contemporary Arguments against Non-Sexist Language: Blaubergs (1980) Revisited.” Sex Roles39 (5–6): 445–461. 10.1023/A:1018827227128
    https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1018827227128 [Google Scholar]
  35. RAE
    RAE 2020Informe de la Real Academia Española sobre el lenguaje inclusivo y cuestiones conexas. Madrid: Real Academia Española. https://www.rae.es/sites/default/files/Informe_lenguaje_inclusivo.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Rheindorf, Markus, and Ruth Wodak
    eds. 2020Sociolinguistic Perspectives on Migration Control: Language Policy, Identity and Belonging. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Rydgren, Jens
    2017 “Radical Right-Wing Parties in Europe: What’s Populism Got to Do with It?” Journal of Language and Politics16 (4): 485–496. 10.1075/jlp.17024.ryd
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlp.17024.ryd [Google Scholar]
  38. Stavrakakis, Yannis, Giorgos Katsambekis, Nikos Nikisianis, Alexandros Kioupkiolis, and Thomas Siomos
    2017 “Extreme Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Revisiting a Reified Association.” Critical Discourse Studies14 (4): 420–439. 10.1080/17405904.2017.1309325
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2017.1309325 [Google Scholar]
  39. Stockemer, Daniel, and Mauro Barisione
    2017 “The ‘New’ Discourse of the Front National under Marine Le Pen: A Slight Change with a Big Impact.” European Journal of Communication32 (2): 100–115. 10.1177/0267323116680132
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0267323116680132 [Google Scholar]
  40. Suny, Ronald Grigor
    2002 “Back and Beyond: Reversing the Cultural Turn?” American Historical Review107: 1476–1499. 10.1086/532855
    https://doi.org/10.1086/532855 [Google Scholar]
  41. Thomson, Irene Taviss
    2010Culture Wars and Enduring American Dilemmas. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Van Dijk, Teun A.
    1997 “What is Political Discourse Analysis?” Belgian Journal of Linguistics11 (1): 11–52. 10.1075/bjl.11.03dij
    https://doi.org/10.1075/bjl.11.03dij [Google Scholar]
  43. Wodak, Ruth
    2015The Politics of Fear: What Right-Wing Populist Discourses Mean. London: Sage. 10.4135/9781446270073
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446270073 [Google Scholar]
  44. 2020The Politics of Fear: The Shameless Normalization of Far-Right Discourse. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): culture war; far right; France; gender-neutral language; language policy; Spain
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error