Parallel sessions #11

Parallel sessions on Saturday 26.11. at 9.00-10.15
Location: Room 10, Metsätalo

Jorge Disseldorp (Ghent University): The Political Power of Right-Wing Narratives on Migration – A Case Study on Migration Discourse in the Remain-Leaning Press during Brexit

As right-wing populist movements have increased their political power over much of the European continent in the recent decades, migration has increasingly become a focal point in political and media discourses on a national and international level. Discourse-based studies on migration have traditionally given prominence to the analysis of more explicit forms of right-wing anti-migration discourses, while comparatively little attention has been given to potential left-wing counter narratives.

To explore whether such narratives exists and how they are constructed, this contribution takes the case study of the 2016 UK-held EU referendum, in which migration played a defining role. Our focus is on the construction of migration as a news topic in four left-leaning progressive and liberal news outlets. To furthermore acknowledge the increased importance of online news consumption, new media, and social media, our corpus consists of 570 Facebook news posts together with the news articles they link to as published between 20 February and 19 July 2016 by BuzzFeed UK, Huffington Post UK, Guardian, and Independent. The principal research questions are: (i) how are migrants discursively constructed in the migration-related posts and articles of these news outlet, and (ii) which topics are used to frame their migration output?

To answer this, the presentation combines i) a frequency analysis to identify through who the incredibly heterogenous group of migrants is represented, and (ii) a Manual Content Analysis to establish the topics through which migration is constructed. The initial finding is that discrimination and xenophobia are the most dominant topic through which migration is discussed. The four news outlets present a discourse of indignation which predominantly functions on condemning claims from pro-Leave actors rather than constructing a counter narrative on its own terms.

Amir Barjasteh (Tampere University): Authoritarian governmentality – Justification of dividing practices in two opposite policies of women’s attire in Iran’s pre- and post-revolution 1979

The study asks how authoritarian practices are constituted in Iran’s modern history. To do that, it investigates two seemingly opposite policies on women’s attire. Those authoritarian policies are “banning all veils” in 1936 during the Pahlavi era, and “mandatory hijab (Islamic veiling)” in 1982 during the Islamic republic period.

The elimination of freedom in new authoritarianism is not merely tantamount to an infringement of rights (Opitz, 2010). But they often come from the very attempt to model governmental interventions on the imagined values and interests that justify dividing practices (Dean, 2009). Following governmentality scholarship, the study addresses positive means through which actors govern people’s conduct and justify authoritarian practices. Employing securitization theory (Buzan et al., 1998), the study points out that invocations of national security can promote the implementation of novel measures of governmental intervention. The study uses Foucauldian discourse analysis as elaborated in the approach to Epistemic governance (Alasuutari & Qadir, 2019) on the leaders’ and activists’ talks and editorials published in press media.

The results reveal how national interests were framed, and dangerous subjects to those interests were constructed. In 1936, 'progress' was introduced as the primary interest of the nation, then veiling was represented as its existential threat. In the 1980s, also, authoritarian actors constructed unveiling as the dangerous subject against the revolutionary nation that needs to be excluded. Such speech acts turned regular affairs of women’s clothing into security concerns and justified the extraordinary measures. Hence authoritarian practices were governed epistemically, and disciplinary policies on women’s attire were enacted in both cases. The study highlights the subtle techniques of governance used in new forms of authoritarianism.

Olga Ulybina (Tampere University): Policy instrument choice under globalization – Do authoritarian states choose differently?

Do authoritarian states differ from non-authoritarian ones in their social policy choices? The paper presents new data on out-of-home childcare policies in 15 ex-Soviet countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Out-of-home childcare refers to care services for children without parental care and families at risk of separation. Specifically, I focus on the policy of childcare deinstitutionalization (DI), aimed at ensuring that every child grows up in a family environment rather than orphanages or similar institutions.

The data show that authoritarian states in the ex-Soviet region do not differ from non-authoritarian governments in their choice of non-coercive instruments for childcare deinstitutionalization. I find significant convergence among 15 states in the adoption of DI policy ‘ends’ and ‘means’, despite drastic differences in political regimes. Countries see issues of children deprived of parental care from a DI perspective, proclaim similar DI policy objectives, for which they use similar DI policy instruments.

Theoretically, I bring together scholarship treating policy choice as a cultural and a political issue and test their key propositions. The data support the predictions of world society theory, which explains widespread assimilation of national policies through the pervasive influence of world culture and a key role of international organizations in promoting ‘modern’ policy models.

Importantly, authoritarian governments do not just proclaim DI policy but introduce internationally-approved instruments, which involve significant reform of social care provision and enable actors to better defend their social rights.