The Fear Of Others

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“All the different variations of Europe’s far right are in the process of developing a common identity by constructing common enemies. The specific common enemy for (…) the Danish People’s Party is globalization. (…) the far right defends ‘identity’ – first and foremost national identity.” (Pelinka, 2013, p. 16).

This common interest of defending own identity by constructing a common enemy can immediately be seen through the increased interest in controlling the influx of immigrants and refugees in Denmark (Jayananthan & Pedersen, 2018).

Especially Muslims are pointed out by the far-right parties, as they have been identified to constitute a threat towards the national identity and welfare in Denmark (Wren, 2001; Block, 2017). There are two far-right/right-wing populist parties in Denmark: ‘The Danish People’s Party (DF)’ from 1995 and a new right-wing populist party ‘Nye Borgerlige’ (New Bourgeois – NB) which was established in 2015. Both parties consider European Union and the other political parties in the national parliament, to be responsible for the perceive danger with immigrants.

By academics, DF is mainly described as a radical right-wing populist party (e.g. Mudde, 2013; Rydgen, 2005), whereas no study had yet been conducted about NB. However, DF and NB share common strategies, which will be defined in the dissertation. DF got 12% of the votes in 2001 (Økonomi og indenrigsministeriet, 2015) and grew gradually since, and became the second biggest party in 2015 (Resultatet af folketingsvalget, 2015), where 85.9% voted (Resultatet af folketingsvalget, 2015).

In the national elections of June 2019 DF had a decrease of 8.8% (Resultatet af folketingsvalget, 2019), possible due to the fact that several parties in the parliament gradually have adopted similar approaches towards especially non-western immigrants (Andersen, 2018).

Another reason to such decrease can be the fact that DF has now competition from NB who received 2.4% of the votes in their first election in June 2019 (Resultatet af folketingsvalget, 2019). Besides, in 2017 another new extremist right-wing populist party was created, receiving 1.8% of the votes in June 2019 (Resultatet af folketingsvalget, 2019).

In 1993, Denmark had once one of the most liberal immigration laws in the world. Legal rights were given to all asylum seekers and family reunification was a legal requirement for asylum-seekers (Mouritsen & Olsen, 2003).

Since then, there has been a radical shift and the right-wing populist parties achieved success in terms of electoral support. This has gradually contributed to changes in the Danish immigration policy. For example, in 2005, Denmark was presented as the country with the most restrictive immigration policy among the former 15 countries in EU (Boeri & Brücker, 2005).

Across Europe, especially since 2009, European right-wing populist parties have experienced a growth in electoral support (Wodak & Khosravinik, 2013). Mudde (2013), stated that the success of the parties already began in the 80’s, but confirms likewise that the last decade has been the most successful for right-wing populist parties.

Various studies have been conducted with the intent to understand the growing success that all far-right parties have gotten and according to Golder (2016), the far-right parties are now the most studied party family. Factors such as media environment, political structure and anti-immigrant attitude (Golder, 2016) are considered as key element to explain and understand the increased success of far-right political parties in Europe.

Studies stated that anti-immigrant attitude are an important factor linked to the right-wing populist supporters (e.g. Rydgen 2008, Norris 2005). Besides, an important characteristic of the right-wing populist parties is their ethnic-nationalist perception of citizenship, which is reflected in their ideology that “own people” must come first (Rydgren, 2005).

In principle, multiculturalism is their enemy, that can foster practices of exclusion of immigrants from the host society. Likewise, some common strategies have been identified among the European right-wing populist parties’ strategies. In specific, the construction of fear, of immigrants and globalization is argued to be a common strategy among these parties (e.g. Wodak, 2005).

Some have been arguing that a rhetoric against the immigration may be responsible for shift societies’ attitude in increasingly anti-immigrant direction (Mason, 2018). Even though other studies have shown that the far-right parties’ success in Europe not have led to an increase in anti-immigration attitudes across Europe (Bohman & Hjerm, 2016). Nevertheless, the parties increased success has not shown to benefit especially Muslims in Denmark, due to the anti-Islamic voice (Nielsen, 2012; Pedersen, & Rytter, 2011).

Despite the increasing academic interest on the topic, there is still a lack of knowledge on the motives why people support far-right political parties. This is particularly important in a country such as Denmark, where new and old populist parties are receiving significant public support.

Besides, qualitative research is rarely used in studies of populist right-wing parties in Europe (Mudde, 2016), and when it was used, it primarily tends to deal with parties’ ideology through analyses of the parties’ documents (Golder, 2016). This study is based on an interdisciplinary approach, including studies from areas of psychology, sociology and political science.

The core goals of this study are to examine the growing success, that populist right-wing parties have got in Denmark by focusing primarily on their supporters’ attitude toward immigration. In total, 16 people who claimed to support the immigration policy of the one of the two major Danish right-wing populist parties, NB and DF, were interviewed.

The goal is to examine the supporter’s identity motives driving individuals to support the Danish parties immigration policy in order to understand their perceived threat by immigrants. In terms of theoretical approaches, the study considers major socio-psychological approaches on social identity but focus mainly on the identity motives from the perspectives of the Identity Process Theory (IPT) (Breakwell, 1986, 2014). IPT draws connection between multiple identity levels and focus on the process of identity change and developing (Breakwell, 2014).

One core idea of the theory of is, that in order to understand the identity development and change, it is necessary to understand how the individual react when the identity is threatened (Breakwell, 2014). To understand the individuals’ support of the immigration policy, it will therefore be examined, how the participants cope with the perceived threat by immigrants, along with which motives are guiding their beliefs and behavior (e.g. supporting and/or joining a far-right party).

The aim is to contribute to the understanding of individuals’ meaning-making of immigrants in Denmark, including the beliefs and perceptions leading to perceived threat of the out-group, and how individuals and groups social representations can affect people’s identity.

In terms of structure, the dissertation is organized as follows: it will begin by introducing common patterns in Europe, with a particular focus on the ideology and the right-wing populist parties’ strategies, followed by studies and theories on individual and collective reaction to threat.

Following, the context of the study will be presented, including a description of immigration policies proposed by both political parties considered in the study. After a methodical introduction of the result, the data will be analyzed and discussed. The analysis is divided into three themes which captures relevant dimensions in relation to the research questions in the study (Braun & Clarke, 2006).


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The Fear Of Others. (2020, Sep 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-fear-of-others/

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