In this article, we analyse a recent case of educational policymaking in the city of Oulu in Finland. The case concerns a ban on asylum seekers’ visits to local schools and day-care centres. Our primary aim is to study the role that negative political emotions play in the decision making process of our case. We primarily utilise Martha Nussbaum’s work on political emotions as our analytical framework. We propose that our case exemplifies a type of backlash politics, where policymaking is motivated by negative emotions and based on ethnic or racial group stigmatisation, with the result of abandoning collectively established democratic values and guidelines. Our case also illustrates how, by creating a culture of fear, the type of policymaking exemplified by our case can significantly diminish the possibilities of democratic institutions, such as the comprehensive school, to reinforce social cohesion and reduce social inequalities in society. Accordingly, we suggest that negative political emotions might have problematic consequences for democratic values and decision making processes. Finally, we propose an alternative course of action for addressing asylum seekers’ visits to Finnish schools: we particularly emphasise the importance of following established democratic procedures in political decision making and also argue for the reinforcement of positive political emotions as a long-term educational objective.

DOI: 10.1332/204378920X15802968112372
ISSN: 2326-9995