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Session Overview
RN32_07b: Discursive Articulations of the Social
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Ov Cristian Norocel, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Location: GM.339
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road

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Mediated Misogyny: the communicative politics of #BoycottGillette

Edward James Pertwee

London School of Economics, United Kingdom

One important component within the contemporary resurgence of far-right politics is antifeminist ‘men’s rights’ activism. Linked through extensive online networks, men’s rights activists (MRAs) have been implicated in notable episodes of organised misogyny, such as the 2014 ‘Gamergate’ campaign of targeted harassment against female video games developers and journalists. Despite a growing literature on the politics of antifeminist backlash, the role of both new and traditional media in mobilising male anger and resentment remains comparatively under-researched.

This paper will explore the dynamics of antifeminist online action through a case study of one recent episode of contention: the online mobilisation against shaving company Gillette’s 2019 advert ‘The Best Men Can Be’. Intended by the company to promote a more positive model of masculinity, the advert was strongly criticised by MRAs and related groups for what they saw as its ‘anti-male’ message. Drawing on a unique dataset of 40,000 tweets collected from Twitter in the aftermath of the advert’s release, the paper will examine the key actors involved in the online mobilisation against Gillette, and the ways in which they and their opponents sought to frame the advert. The paper will also explore the way in which the anti-Gillette mobilisation was covered by the traditional media. In doing so, the paper will contribute to wider debates about the respective roles of new and traditional media in fuelling support for reactionary politics.

Communicating Mobilisation and Resistance: The Rhetorical Dimension of Radical Movements and Protest across Periods of 'Newness'

Giorgos Charalambous

University of Nicosia, Cyprus

This study is a section of an ongoing book project under contract with Pluto Press, which attempts to draw historical parallels between different periods in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries when the radical left as a political family in Europe has manifested itself in ways that have been conventionally considered as ‘new’. The purpose is to bring into light continuities and discontinuities between different historical instances of radical politics. The book compares social movements and parties on the radical left space in Europe across three decades – the 'first new left' of the late 1960s to the late 1970s, the mid-1990s to the early 2000s global justice struggles (GJM), and the post-2008 anti-austerity and pro-democracy mobilisations. ‘Newness’ is assessed across distinct analytical levels concerning ideas and claims, rhetoric and communication, and organizational form.

The study proposed here, intended as a chapter of the aforementioned book project devoted to the evolution of radical rhetoric across time, asks if and how the post-2008 social movements and protest events associated with the European radical left can be seen as distinct from those of the 1960s/70s and the GJM in Europe, in terms of communicating mobilization and resistance. The overarching theme of the study is how left radicalism has (re) casted and (re) framed its struggles.The analysis looks in particular at two elements of radical rhetoric: first, how the movements and protesters cast themselves, that is projecting the movement’s image to the public at large through slogans, banners and a number of other real or virtual communication tools and performances; second, the use of discursive schemas, binaries, trichotomies or more complex language, as utilised to communicate ideological messages.

Anti-Muslim Racism In Israeli And German Public Discourses: Manifestations On Local, National And International Levels.

Anja Schmidt-Kleinert

Philipps-University Marburg, Germany

The so-called “refugee crisis” of 2015, as the major influx of Syrian civil war refugees and asylum seekers from North Africa is often referred to, has added fuel to the fire of “hate parties” (Western) Europe-wide, e.g., the AfD in Germany, the FPÖ in Austria, the Front National/ Rassemblement National in France, Wilder’s Partij voor de Vrijheid in the Netherlands, or the Yisra’el Beitenu in Israel.

Most of these political parties put a particular emphasis on anti-immigrant, or, rather, anti-Muslim-related issues, drawing a threat scenario of “Islamisation”. By doing so, they have been able to link their rhetorics to racist, or, anti-Muslim stereotypes of the majority populations, and increasingly dominate public and political discourses.

In the suggested paper, I will look at the presentation of a threat of “Islamisation” in public discourse as a means of symbolic boundary-making in two exemplary case studies, Israel and Germany. Central questions here are: first, how a threat of “Islamisation” is presented on the different societal levels (local, national, international) and, second, how threat is linked to (anti-Muslim) racism in both countries.

The suggested paper is based on the secondary analysis of data collected in two independent research projects. For the Israeli case, the data base are in-depth interviews with activists in the Yisra’el Beitenu party. The German case study is based on social media communication. By using a sociology of knowledge approach to discourse studies, the material of both case studies allows the examination of a perception of threat in public discourse.

The Social Renegotiation of German Conceptions of Asylum and Human Rights in Response to the “Migrant Crises” of 1992/3 and 2015/6

Julius Maximilian Rogenhofer

University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

This paper examines the political actors, discourses and practices underlying two sea changes in the asylum framework of the Federal Republic of Germany, namely the “Asylkompromiss” (“asylum compromise”) of 1992/3 and the legislative response to the so called “refugee crisis” of 2015/6. In both periods rapid increases in the number of migrants arriving in Germany were interpreted as a social problem to be resolved by means of legislative amendment, in interconnected parliamentary and media debates. Both re-conceptions of the country’s response to the social problem of increased irregular migration focussed narrowly on the right of asylum, which is originally sought to protect only politically persecuted people. The paper analyses why, in both cases, the requisite majority of parliamentarians in the Lower House of the German Parliament (Bundestag) opted to narrow German asylum law rather than addressing the transformations of society brought about by migration directly, either by enacting an immigration law (which would follow two years later, in December 2018) or through targeted laws aimed at victims of civil war, state collapse, extreme poverty and environmental catastrophes. The theoretical approach of this paper addresses the adverse implications of the capture of social bargaining processes by political actors leveraging the notions of “crisis” to problematise social phenomena and “Handlungsfähigkeit” (the government’s perceived ability to act decisively) to eliminate alternative negotiation outcomes. In light of these two notions, constraints emerge on how political actors can creatively (as conceived by George Herbert Mead) respond to societal transformations.

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