PET: en national sikkerhedsmyndighed: En dekonstruktion af PET’s kommunikation om efterretningstjenestens rolle i samfundet

Mikkel Røddik Christensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The role of intelligence agencies in western democracies has been a debated topic for decades, as we constantly ask ourselves how much of our liberty we are willing to sacrifice in exchange for our security. The same goes for the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) who has undergone a dramatic evolution in the past decades post 9/11 and the cartoon crises. This thesis examines how PET articulate their own role in relation to the democratic society they are a part of through a textual analysis of the agency’s external communication. The thesis relies on the theoretical work of Ernesto Laclau and his theory of deconstruction that aims to detect the distinctions that permeate the given text, the valorization of those distinctions, and analyze the logic or mechanisms that the distinctions are a result of. In the first chapter the thesis introduces the scientific and theoretical framework for the analysis after which the construction of the analytical strategy is outlined. The empirical data that this thesis is based on consists of PET’s external communication including an annual report, unclassified reports on terrorist threats, and descriptions of the agency from their website. Through the implementation of the Laclau theory of deconstruction, the thesis establishes which distinctions characterize the external communication of PET and analyze what these distinctions, their valorization, and the relations between the distinctions reveal about PET’s view of their role and reason for being. The thesis dissects the distinctions in order to highlight the indecidability and contingency in the empirical material and show how the distinctions are linked together. Ultimately, this process of analysis leads to a conclusion of the logic that the Side 4 a f 78 distinctions and their valorization can be said to be a consequence of. The thesis has provided a higher degree of insight into the challenges of a modern intelligence agency such as PET, and how the organization’s view of themselves and their relation to the democratic society they are a part of, and how they rationalize their behavior and methods. The thesis shows the tension between PET and society as PET struggles to articulate a balance between the values they represent and implications of these values in their daily work.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages78