Officielle undskyldninger

Rasmus Lundgaard Nielsen & Johnas Lykke Eskildsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Since the 1990s the world has seen a proliferation of public apologies. Several heads of state and other state officials have publicly expressed their remorse by apologizing for past transgressions committed by the authorities in their respective countries.
In Denmark, two such apologies are known. In 1999, then Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen apologized to the Inughuit tribe, an indigenous Greenlandic people, for their eviction from their native site by the Danish authorities to make room for the expansion of the American Thule Air Base in 1953.In 2005,Nyrup Rasmussen’s successor Anders Fogh Rasmussen similarly apologized for the Danish deportation of21Jews to Nazi Germany during World War II.
This thesis examines the concept of official apologies as observed by the Danish Government in relation to four cases concerning the two aforementioned apologies as well as two cases where no apologies have been made. The analysis of the thesis is conditioned by German sociologist Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory and his second-order theory of social communications.
The analysis found that the communications of the Government can be split into four semantic phases that each constructs the official apology in their own way, but in relation to the three functional systems of law, science and economy as found by the analysis. On this account, the thesis moves on to discuss the implications of the semantics on future communication evoked by the Government. The discussion finds that insofar a semantics of official apologies can be asserted, future communication will be limited by the meaning and expectations that have been condensed into the concept of the official apology as well as other related concept.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages119
SupervisorsGhita Dragsdahl Lauritzen