Making Substantive Claims : The Representation of Immigrant Interests in Political Blogs in Sweden and Finland

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201703273384
Title: Making Substantive Claims : The Representation of Immigrant Interests in Political Blogs in Sweden and Finland
Author: Anttila, Salla
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political and Economic Studies
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2016
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201703273384
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/160681
Thesis level: master's thesis
Abstract: Immigrants form a new group of political actors in contemporary societies, while immigration issues are also a subject to an increasingly heated debate that divides voters and candidates. This thesis studies how electoral candidates from Stockholm and Helsinki claim to represent immigrants and immigrant interests in their blogs, during the most recent parliamentary elections. The main purposes of the study are to test the empirical potential of the claims-making theory, and to analyze the range of issues and interests offered to immigrants in two different national contexts. The candidate blogs are treated as platforms of political representation. Following a contemporary, constructivist theoretical approach, representation is understood as a process of claims-making in which the interests of the represented are constituted in a certain way. The analytical framework of critical frame analysis is employed, for the applicable parts, to analyze how the claims advance substantive representation, which kind of issues and interests immigrants are claimed to have, and how they are portrayed as the constituency of the claims. Apart from the issue of employment, the majority of the claims in the blogs were made on immigrant issues per definition, namely increased support of racist political parties, racism, and asylum policies. Notably, in Sweden, the populist radical right party was depicted as the main culprit for racism, whereas in Finland, racism and discrimination were more often treated as societal problems. Moreover, the issue of asylum immigration was more visible in Sweden, whereas the issue of criminality was connected to immigration exclusively in Finland. As a constituency, immigrants were often portrayed as one category of people, as victims of racism, as asylum seekers, or as workers; or they were merely included into a broader claimed constituency, the society as a whole. In many blogs, the diversity of immigrant groups and individuals was thus not recognized. However, several exceptions of individual claims brought up the interests of particular immigrant groups, such as women or Muslims. In the scope of existing research, this thesis changes the focus from the descriptive representation of immigrants to statements candidates make in the social media, which is a central platform of political debate today. Furthermore, the ongoing development of the public discourse and, in the light recent events, the increased emphasis on the issues of criminality and asylum immigration, speak for the importance to study this discourse from the viewpoint of political representation.
Discipline: Political Science, Politics
Yleinen valtio-oppi, politiikan tutkimus
Allmän statslära, politologi


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