• Khadra Hashi
  • Karoline Mathilde Birch Ømand
This paper takes on a critical approach to policy analysis by using Carol Bacchi’s What’s the problem represented to be, by examining the Danish government’s representation of radicalization from the period 2005 to 2020 and what the representation might do to the portrayal of specific ethnic minority groups. The study adds a theoretical perspective of Stanley Cohen’s concepts of moral panic and folk devils in the analysis.

By identifying four existing problem representations that exist in the problematization of radicalization we identify four types of ‘problems’; a security-, an integration-, a social- and a vulnerability ‘problem’. In a scrutinizing analysis of these underlying problem representations, we identify a negative discursive meaning dominated by a contradiction between “them and us” which produces a stigmatizing representation of ethnic minority groups as alienated and isolated Muslim groups who can pose a risk of radicalization. The majority of Danish society benefits from being left unproblematized in the representation of radicalization. Following Bacchi’s approach, a genealogical analysis reveals that the perception of Islam posing a threat to society exists in the underlying problem representations of radicalization. This perception was revealed to be anchored in events related to terrorism, which led back to the terrorist attacks on 9/11. This paper argues that the representation of radicalization produced by the Danish government may have meaning for the portrayal of ethnic minority groups. Furthermore, it argues that the representation of radicalization and its meaning for the portrayal of ethnic minority groups can be described by Cohen’s theoretical terms of moral panic and folk devils, which stigmatizes ethnic minority groups as deviant and alienated in opposition to the majority in society. The representation of radicalization and the rhetoric and discourses used to portray ethnic minority groups are elucidated in previous literature. This paper considers a significant methodological caveat in the findings of the analysis, given the fact that the methodological approach does not consider that “radicalization” and “extremism” are competing key concepts in the prevention initiatives presented by the Danish government. Therefore, it cannot be concretely concluded which of the concepts the initiatives aim at.
Publication date6 Jun 2023
ID: 533211584