Dansk, danskere, danskhedstest…: Hvordan fremstilles danskheden i forbindelse med indfødsretsprøven? En kritisk diskursanalyse

Carol Munkers

Student thesis: Master thesis


Recently, a citizenship test was introduced in Denmark as part of an agreement between the Danish Government and the Danish Peoples’ Party in 2005. The test is one of many increasingly burdensome requirements that immigrants must fulfil in order to be granted Danish citizenship, and it requires knowledge of Danish social conditions, Danish culture, and history. Presuming the aim of the test is to determine to which degree the applicants meet the criteria of being Danish, I wonder whether it is at all possible to test for Danishness. Thus, the main objective of this thesis is to investigate the discursive construction of Danish national identity in connection with the citizenship test. The focus of critical discourse analysis (CDA) is to investigate social inequality in connection with language use. Therefore, I have chosen CDA as the theoretical framework for my analysis in a combination of the methods of two scholars of CDA – Norman Fairclough and Ruth Wodak. Thus, the analytical framework is based on Fairclough’s three-dimensional model and draws upon Wodak’s insight into the discursive construction of national identity as well as applying her discourse-historical perspective. Furthermore, the principle of triangulation is approximated by analysing three texts from different social contexts – a parliamentary debate regarding the citizenship test; the study material for preparation for the citizenship test; and an article on the test including comments from readers. By looking into the history of Danish national identity and the special naturalization practices as they have developed in Denmark, an image appeared of Danish identity as being fundamentally rooted in the nationalism advocated by Grundtvig and his followers in the last half of the 19th century, which focused on language, people and history. According to Michael Billig’s views on banal nationalism, the maintenance of this fundamental identity has in part been possible through continuous almost unconscious reminders of the national affiliation. Despite disagreement in other related views, the analysis of texts from different social contexts indicated a fundamental, practically subconscious concord on the basic characteristics of Danishness. This image is made up mainly by a positive self-image of superiority, seems to be taken out of a tourist brochure, and, furthermore, excludes people of ‘non-western’ appearance. The question is which social consequences could this image of Danishess result in? First of all, when ’non-western’ characteristics are not included in the construction of Danishness, many people who acquire citizenship could experience that even though they fulfil all the requirements they would not be perceived as Danish. Furthermore, the fundamental concord on the perception of Danishness could contribute to reducing the debate on immigration to a non-constructive battle of words between ’political wings’ excluding immigrants from participating actively. A perception of Danishness that is so deeply rooted and historically founded that it is almost taken for granted, and, furthermore, appears to be approved by the government, could contribute to influence the general attitude of the population and thereby push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable treatment of immigrants and their descendants. Thus, it appears that the image of Danishness identified through the analysis involves an excluding feature which is fundamental and implicit, and as such it leaves no room for an inclusive definition of Danishness.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages128