Values – A Political Compass or Hot Air? A Systems Theoretical Analysis of The Social Democratic Party in Denmark’s Immigration Policy

Lucas Bønnelycke Baunsgaard, Peter Saaby Johansen & Tobias Bjørn Nielsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


In recent years The Social Democratic Party in Denmark has been accused of not being in line with its traditional values. Even though the Party itself proclaims that it has made alterations to some policy areas, it claims that all its policies are in line with the Party’s values. The aim of this thesis is to analyze how the Party is able to communicate about both unchangeability and changeability in its present immigration policy and discuss the consequences on the function of the Party’s stated unchangeable values.
Firstly, a historical semantic analysis is conducted in order to establish a distance to the Party’s communication as a given object and instead be able to question and denaturalize it with the purpose of exposing its contingency and development over time. Secondly, the thesis examines the Party’s present communication about immigration policy with the purpose of showing how the Party is able to communicate about both unchangeability and changeability by analyzing three explicit communication strategies. Thirdly, the thesis discusses how the analyzed communication strategies can undermine the Party’s future ability to communicate about unchangeability.
The thesis concludes that the Party historically shifted its focus from securing the right prerequisites for a prosperous integration effort to focus on the number of immigrants coming to Denmark and the problems the lack of integration had caused. Furthermore, the thesis finds that The Social Democratic Party in Denmark in an attempt to act effectively in the present and solve current problems sacrifice the opportunity to use their values in the future because the values lose their function as they lose their flexibility and abstraction when used to solve present political challenges.
Finally, this raises a more general question on whether idealistic values stand in the way of political parties seeking influence and if so, how political parties handle the challenge of staying loyal to their values while still being able to tackle present political challenges?

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages141
SupervisorsJustine Grønbæk Pors