• Henrik Pinderup Frandsen
4. term, Danish, Master (Master Programme)
The initial question of this master thesis is: Who defines our reality in regards to refugees and immigrants?
Who decides how we talk about ‘them’, and is it reasonable to even talk about ‘them’ as a rigidly defined group? Through a qualitative examination of empirical data from the political sphere this thesis tries to answer said questions.
The Danish governmental policies on refugees and immigrants have drawn headlines in international media in recent years. Some of the policies have been widely condemned, and in some cases there have even been drawn comparisons to the vile deeds of Nazi-Germany. This master thesis is an examination of the discourse behind these policies, mainly in regards to Dansk Folkeparti [The Danish People’s Party], since they historically are the main proponent of the right-wing populist discourse in Denmark. The primary objective of the examination is a discourse analysis, but there is however also historical dimensions to consider, which in part have determined the theoretical and methodological framework of the analysis. Hence the Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA), a sub-discipline within the field of Critical Discourse Analysis, was chosen as the main method of analysis because it encompasses both the synchronic and diachronic aspects of the analysis.
The analysis takes its point of departure in an examination of the historical and contemporary context of the right-wing populist discourse. The examination makes it evident that the’etnification’ of refugees and immigrants by the media, combined with a substantial intake of refugees in the 1980’s, led to a representation vacuum in the center of Danish politics, which was filled by the creation in 1995 of the center-right populist party, Dansk Folkeparti. Such was the appeal of this new party to the public that inside a few years it grew to be the third largest in Denmark, capturing votes from other center parties in the process.
The discourse analysis is divided into two parts. The first part is exclusively occupied with the refugee and immigrant discourse of Dansk Folkeparti in the media, whereas the second part focuses on the parliamentary and policy discourses in regards to refugees and immigrants of all of the four main parties involved in the foreigner legislation that has made Denmark infamous in international media.
The first part of the analysis deductively shows how the media discourse of Dansk Folkeparti incorporates a lot of the generic right-wing populist features that studies in the field of populism has identified. Thus a particular Danish form of right-wing populism is not apparent. The thesis makes use of a broad palette of linguistic analytical tools including argumentation theory, rhetorical analysis, and of course discourse analysis. Through the application of said tools the analysis shows that the most prevalent of the aforementioned generic features in Danish right-wing populist discourse, are the discursive construction of an us versus them-dichotomy. This motif is primarily constructed through repetitive usage of metonymical and synecdochal nomination and predication, and argumentatively by topoi-related innuendo. These observations were made through an inductive analysis of relevant empirical data.
In a Danish context the main characteristic of the discursive construction of the us versus them-dichotomy seems to be the division of the population in a native us - ‘the real Danes’ - which is pitted against a threatening them – refugees and immigrants from other cultures (mainly Islamic cultures). The thesis argues, that such a construction paradoxically appeals both to national pride in a strong and independent nation untouched by the grinding wheels of history, and at the same time to a xenophobic sentiment of a nation that is vulnerable to foreign cultures. Nearly every observation in the analysis can be tied to this construction.
In the second part of the analysis, it is shown how the us versus them-dichotomy has permeated the center of Danish politics to such an extent that even the major center-left party, Socialdemokratiet [The Social Democracy Party], reinforces the right-wing populist discourse by giving voice to and acknowledging the gap between an essentialized us and a marginalized them. Furthermore the thesis argues that the dichotomy of us versus them has become so ingrained in the public discourse that it functions as one of the underlying - and thereby unquestioned - premises for the debate in the center of Danish politics.
Conclusively this thesis finds that the anti-humanist ideology behind the right-wing discourse runs contrary to what at least two of the major center parties in Denmark claim to represent in their political party program. Nevertheless, by way of adopting right-wing discourse in order to attract voters they surprisingly appear more populistic in some aspects than even Dansk Folkeparti. Thus there has not been made any crucial changes to Dansk Folkeparti’s party line with respect to foreigner policy in the last nearly 25 years, whereas the aforementioned center parties have been swayed significantly by public opinion. Finally the thesis claims, that the marginalization of certain groups of immigrants and refugees is reflected in the very discriminating policies within foreigner legislation that has made headlines in international media.
Publication date24 May 2019
Number of pages80
ID: 304273632