The True Colors of Finnish Welfare Nationalism : Consolidation of Neo-Populist Advocacy as a Resonant Collective Identity through Mobilization of Exclusionary Narratives of Blue-and-White Solidarity

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Pyrhönen , N J 2015 , ' The True Colors of Finnish Welfare Nationalism : Consolidation of Neo-Populist Advocacy as a Resonant Collective Identity through Mobilization of Exclusionary Narratives of Blue-and-White Solidarity ' , Helsinki .

Title: The True Colors of Finnish Welfare Nationalism : Consolidation of Neo-Populist Advocacy as a Resonant Collective Identity through Mobilization of Exclusionary Narratives of Blue-and-White Solidarity
Author: Pyrhönen, Niko Johannes
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Swedish School of Social Science
Publisher: University of Helsinki, Swedish School of Social Science
Date: 2015-10-16
Number of pages: 222
Belongs to series: SSKH skrifter
ISBN: 978-952-10-8836-0
978-952-10-8837-7
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/232329
Abstract: At the beginning of the millennium, a concern for the future of the welfare state in the globalized era was widely shared across the Finnish political spectrum. Further politicizing the question of immigration, neo-populist advocates mobilized a markedly heterogeneous constituency to support the right-wing populist Perussuomalaiset party, establishing the previously minor party among the three largest ones in the parliament. Employing a wide range of narratives, specifically tailored to different arenas of public debate, neo-populism soon acquired a chameleonic character that allowed front-line politicians and grassroots level advocates to secure support from constituencies in the blue-collared working-class, the middle classes and the dot.net generation. Instrumental in the expansion of the Perussuomalaiset voter base was the neo-populists ability to consistently facilitate exposure in the media for a welfare nationalist political agenda that framed their exclusionary immigration critique as part of a mundane socio-political debate aimed at saving our welfare state. In order to examine the consolidation of neo-populism into a resonant collective identity, the present study operationalizes theoretical contributions from critical nationalism studies a compound body of literature in sociology, political science and media studies into three analytical lenses. Triangulating between these lenses, the empirical analysis focuses on the narrative agency of neo-populist advocates, uncovering how the seedbed of favorable political opportunity structures was harnessed in their political mobilization. The collection of narrative data from a variety of arenas of public debate, and its subsequent analysis, is structured by a historical reconstruction of three critical turning points taking place before, during and right after the electoral victory of the Perussuomalaiset in 2011. The results of this doctoral study point to a conclusion that neo-populist mobilization was first advanced through narratives of exclusionary boundary-work, employed for the purpose of justifying a welfare nationalist focus on immigration politics as the panacea for the ailing welfare state. Constructing an idealized legacy of an empowering welfare state and harmoniously homogeneous civil society, neo-populists proliferated public stories that place the blame for the welfare state s globalized challenges on immigration. Moreover, through strategic social action in various online arenas of contested media space, the neo-populists sought to further personalize and emotionalize the debate on immigration. This served to consolidate a collective identity based on victimized self-understanding, whereby their political opponents and public critics were positioned into distinct enemy categories, such as the elite controlled media, irresponsible Green Khmers and detached ladies with flowery hats.
Subject: 5141 Sociology
populism
nationalism
welfare state
public discourse
media
activism
radicalism
parliament
social media
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