Crisis of Confidence

Kristoffer Hanskov Graae & Julius Rechendorff

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master thesis addresses the topic of what appears to be a crisis of confidence in Danish politics. We question how the crisis is ascribed meaning in the political system and which opportunities of management arise as consequence. From a poststructuralist view, we investigate this with the use of theoretical framework of sociologist, Niklas Luhmann’s system theory with support from insights from Slavoj Žižek’s critique of ideology. The starting point of the thesis is that a number of polls have shown that in Denmark, confidence to politicians is lower than ever before. In this context, the referendum on the optin model for participation in justice and home affairs1 in December 2015 was called a referendum of confidence. Based on public sources, we thus examine how the crisis of confidence appears in communication from the political system in association with the referendum. First, we identify how the crisis of confidence is not only a matter of lack of confidence from the people, but as a more comprehensive internal system crisis. Second, we show how the crisis of confidence structures the communication and how this opens for strategic use by offering different interpretations of the consequences of the referendum. Third, we detect how cynical distance and attempts to fulfill desire underpins the seemingly fantasmatic construction of the crisis of confidence. Fourth, we outline how communication about the crisis of confidence may be used as a management tool by installing a problem wherein the system already has the solution. In the final discussion, we will point to an alternative way of viewing crisis communication and argue that in the end, taking advantage of a crisis might undermine the system itself. Our main findings include that the political system constructs a comprehensive, complex and inviolable internal crisis of confidence that cynical politicians can apply in various forms with the aim of resolving political challenges, but by doing so they might end up consolidating and spreading the crisis of confidence and so they operate self-subversive.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages110
SupervisorsSteen Vallentin