Vækst gennem tillid eller tillid? En politisk diskursanalyse af kampen om at meningsbestemme tillid i debatten om revisionspligt af danske virksomheder

Julie Gjøtterup Andersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The Danish society is historically characterized by a high level of trust. Trust in each other, the societal institutions and in business. As a matter of fact, Danes are known to be the most trusting people in the world. Most of us attribute the concept of trust to be of positive nature, which enables most of us to join forces with this as a common goal. Indeed, trust often appears as the foundation of both the public and private sector, just like trust in recent years have received an increasing interest from the research and management literature. Yet, trust can be considered a relative size when, from time to time, trust finds an interconnection between parties who otherwise would have completely conflicting interests. Based on a specific case, more specifically the ongoing debate on mandatory auditing, this thesis sets out to investigate how trust at one and the same time can be the answer to both the elimination and keeping of the mandatory audit.
To analyze the debate on mandatory auditing of Danish companies, I will use the discursive theoretical concepts of political theoretic, Ernesto Laclaus. This places the study within a social-constructivist paradigm, where the world is perceived as linguistically founded and constructed through discursive processes, why everything is in constant change and of different interpretations. As such, the study is based on a basic assumption that meaning is produced through contingent discursive processes, and that it is through these processes that we make meaning of our social reality.
The study incorporates two discourses, or hegemonic projects, whereas the one is constructed by the government and the other is constructed by the auditing industry. Both discourses seek to determine the empty signifier ‘trust’. The study understands ‘empty signifier’ as an expression that loses its meaning as it, in a political fight, is ascribed opposing meaning of dissenting parties. I interpret how the discourses assign meaning to the empty signifier in two different and strongly antagonistic ways. The first discourse seeks to fill the signifier with what I identify as “trust at risk”. Oppositely, the other discourse seeks to fill the signifier with what I identify as “trust at safety”, which enables me to conclude that the government and the auditing industry perceive trust radically differently, meaning that what is perceived to be trust in the eyes of the government is the opposite of how the auditing industry views trust, and vice versa.
As it is such a vital issue for the auditing industry to keep the mandatory audit, the analytical findings on trust led me to a more practice-oriented discussion of the auditing industry's opportunities to achieve hegemony with their particular discourse of trust. Followed by a perspective that suggests that the case selected on mandatory audit together with the analytical findings might be argued to reflect a larger societal problem.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages83
SupervisorsNiels Thyge Thygesen