Management or Chaos: A Discourse Analysis of how the Danish Social Democratic Party Constructs the Public Sector and the Consequences for Management

Merete Nyfeldt

Student thesis: Master thesis


Through a poststructuralist approach this thesis investigates how The Danish Social Democratic Party constructs the Danish public sector in their political communication. Moreover, it investigates the types of management these constructions seem to insist on and their consequences. The thesis shows that the Social Democratic Party discursively constructs the public sector through six different discourses that give importance to freedom as professional competences, focus on end results as quality in welfare, reliance in the public employees as competency in welfare, rewarding as better welfare, mobilizing the local governance as good welfare, and community as constituting for our welfare society. Each discourse constructs different ways of appearance for citizens, employees, and politicians. As a consequence the discourses insist on different types of management that seem to co‐exist in The Social Democratic Party’s communication. This, in turn, makes management in the public sector a complex and challenging task. Taking my point of departure in a discourse analysis based on Ernesto Laclau & Chantal Mouffe, I show how the discourses and subject positions are found in the Party’s political communication through articulation, chains of equivalence, and creation of antagonistic relations. All in all, this shows how the six discourses attempt to stabilize a hegemonic project and ascribe certain meanings to the concept of the public sector. Examining the discourses and subject positions in the light of established management paradigms in the public sector the thesis finds that they emphasize different variations of management. I thereby show that contradictory and inconsistent variations of management and management paradigms co‐exist in The Social Democratic Party’s discursive construction of the public sector. This makes management in the public sector a highly complex challenge. Following this, I speak in favor of trying to accept and make use of the complexity and encourage the Party to focus on how to create complementarity between the management paradigms in the public sector in order to produce the best outcomes.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages84
SupervisorsChrista Breum Amhøj