The Nexus of Scandinavian Exclusionary Thinking and the Naturalization of Difference

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 6:42 PM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Peter HERVIK , Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
Studies of European political party programs, social movements, news media coverage, scores of books, and social media networks have embraced a negative dialogue towards migrants, whose identities are increasingly seen as incompatible with “Western” values and presenting a major challenge to the democracy. Sponsors of these public discourse support anti-migration and oppositionary stances to “migrant sympathizers”, who are often represented as traitors or cowards. They also fuel a process where xenophobia and zero-tolerance have become naturalized and morally accepted ways to respond to the non-Western migrants. But how do people reason reason on these issues in everyday interaction and during interviews? The aim of this paper is to discuss how negativity against migrants in Scandinavia is related to negative beliefs towards “multiculturalism”, “feminism”, and “liberals” (left-wingers) in Scandinavian popular reasoning about difference. While there is much research about different forms of exclusionary beliefs separately and against specific collectivities, there is little scientific knowledge about how one belief co-exists with another as figures in reasoning. We approach this coexistence as a “nexus of exclusionary beliefs” with its blurred relations, inherent contradictions, and taken for granted assumptions. Through interactive methods that include a variety of qualitative interviews and participant observation followed by analysis of online social media and web news commenting, we seek to understand the cultural logics of this contemporary Scandinavian reasoning about difference, and if successful we can supply some input to the discussion whether the anti-beliefs are related by diffusion, analogy, correlation, or competition.