The Threat from the Outside: Welfare Consequences of the Refugee Crisis

Andrea Myhrbraaten

Student thesis: Master thesis


As a result of the ongoing war in Syria, thousands of refugees have entered, and are trying to enter, Europe. Some of them have found their way to Norway. This master thesis uses Ernesto Laclau's discourse theory to analyze and discuss the Norwegian authorities' articulations of the refugees and its potential consequences.
The analysis is divided into three parts. By analyzing how the Norwegian authorities have articulated the refugees from the 1950's until today, this thesis explores how todays articulations are actually a result of a number of re-articulations. This is done by using a discourse analysis with a particular focus on articulations, dislocations, hegemony and empty signifiers. Firstly, by exploring how the Norwegian authorities have articulated refugees in the 1950's, 1970's and the 1990's. Secondly, by analyzing the characteristics of the articulations and discourse after the year 2000 and how the observed dislocation was made possible. Lastly, an analysis of how the refugee crisis has potential to dislocate the welfare-hegemonic discourse, is presented and discussed. The thesis is based on a hypothesis that the refugee crisis in the summer of 2015, triggered a dislocation of the refugee discourse. The thesis argues that this was due to the photographies published in the media showing women and children in distress in the Mediterranean Sea. The analysis shows that before the dislocation, the hegemonic discourse circled around an articulation of refugees as being male and that the photographies presented in the media disrupted this impression. Afterwards, a new articulation-process began. Here the analysis explores how refugees are articulated as an economic burden and a threat to the Norwegian welfare state. These articulations have the potential to dislocate the welfare-hegemonic discourse due to its new ways of describing the welfare-community. Furthermore, by articulating the refugees as a threat, they are also constitutively constructed on the outside of the Norwegian welfare- and insurance community. The discussion argues that the new articulations may have constitutive consequences due to the articulation of the refugees as a threat and the integration paradox that it creates.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages77
SupervisorsKaspar Villadsen