Racism, Nationalism and the Asylum Seeker Crisis: Towards a Sociology without Borders

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Peter GALE, University of South Australia, Australia
Jesse BARKER GALE, Flinders University of South Australia, Australia
Political and media debates on racism often become a discussion on who or what is racist. As with many research questions, the concepts are complex and can’t be reduced to a straightforward yes or no response. Racism cannot be understood as a simple binary of being racist or not racist. The very common refrain, ‘I am not a racist but…’ is often used to engender support for political policies, superficially represented as being in the national interest, while in practice pursue popular politics at the expense of vulnerable minority groups.

This is arguably the case in the ongoing political debates on asylum seekers and border protection policies in many western nation states such as Australia and the United States. Politics becomes driven by short-term electoral gain rather than by what is good policy.

The recent ‘Reclaim Australia’ rallies in Australia are a current example of patriot politics and a symptom of a failure of political leadership coupled with other factors such as the role of the traditional media and the growth and accessibility of social media. However, the critical consideration here is not just good political leadership but also the role of research and public sociology, or sociology without borders.

This paper focuses on racism in Australia and broader western society and explores the possibilities for research that can effectively engage in contemporary political debate and address a growing crisis in politics as nation states struggle with public opinion and policies that substantially address the global growth in the number of asylum seekers.