• Thomas Hermansen
4. semester, Socialt Arbejde, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
The motivation behind this thesis stems from a curiosity about how the public discourse in Denmark often portrays brown minorities as essentially different from the white majority and a concern about how these articulations influence brown minorities’ life opportunities in Danish society. Based on this concern the thesis examines how discursive constructions of subject positions take place in the public discourse about brown minorities in Denmark and discusses how this construction determines the boundaries of brown minorities’ opportunities for identity, action and recognition.

The examination is based on the poststructuralist philosophical tradition and radical discourse theory as presented by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. The analytical approach is shaped and guided by their conceptual framework and seeks to uncover the discursive linkages around which subject positions are constructed. The analytical approach thus focuses on these linkages and constructions of meaning that occur through implicit associations, specific choices of words, constructions of opposites, metaphors, use of stereotypes etc.

The discussion of how these constructions determine the boundaries of brown minorities’ opportunities for identity, action and recognition takes as its theoretical starting point the poststructuralist and discourse theoretical understanding of identity as something that is contingent and ever changing. In this view identity is formed by social interactions and the subject positions being offered in these interactions. Adding to this Erving Goffman’s Stigma (2014/ 1963) is included to bring nuances and further understandings of the process of stigmatization.

The empirical material of the analysis consists of 91 articles taken from a period of one week in 2015 and from all Danish, national, daily newspapers. The Danish news media was chosen in part due to availability and in part due to the emphasis existing research in this field puts on the role of the news media in creating and distributing discourses, particularly when it comes to brown minorities.

In order to include the findings of existing research a chapter on the overall knowledge produced by available studies into discourses on brown minorities in Denmark is included. These studies consist of 11 pieces based on specific research projects and 3 pieces of a more general nature.

The conclusion of the analysis is that the subject positions offered to brown minorities are constructed through multiple discursive linkages creating a number of different nodal points: unemployed brown minority, non-Danish brown minority, traditional Muslim brown minority, untrustworthy and violent Muslim brown minority, suppressed brown minority woman, patriarchal brown minority man, criminal and radicalized young brown minority man. These subject positions shape all interactions between brown minorities and the white majority by creating a frame that both parties have to relate to while also relating to the other party’s knowledge of this frame. This in turn means that brown minorities are not met as complex individuals but have to understand themselves through, and thus to some degree internalize, these stereotypical subject positions. The subject positions discursively draw on general boundaries constituting brown minorities and the white majority as two mutually exclusive groups, giving the white majority priority over Denmark and constructing brown minorities as problems that cannot be trusted.
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