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"Are you thinking what we’re thinking?” Immigration, multiculturalism and the disavowal of racism in the run-up to the 2005 British general election

Pitcher, Ben (2006) "Are you thinking what we’re thinking?” Immigration, multiculturalism and the disavowal of racism in the run-up to the 2005 British general election. Social Semiotics, 16 (4). pp. 535-551. ISSN 1035-0330

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10350330601019892

Abstract

The overt expression of racist discourse in the public realm is today—even in the case of far-right organizations like the British National Party—avoided at all costs. Yet approaches by competing political parties to the “populist” issue of asylum/immigration in the months preceding the 2005 General Election were clearly informed by negative ideas of racial difference. This article sets out to describe the conceptual logic and rhetorical structures of political discourses of cultural pluralism underwritten by the spectre of racism. This “official multiculturalism” is in large part shared by mainstream political parties and national news media, and is predicated on the self-conscious disavowal of racism and racist intent, while simultaneously serving to attack or problematize the existence or behaviour of certain racialized groups, both within and without the nation. I argue that such interventions increasingly circulate around definitions of legitimate cultural citizenship; that is, on ideas of civil society predicated on normative models of belonging to multicultural Britain. I will consider how the electoral campaigns of both Labour and Conservative parties were carefully constructed with a view to their reporting in the news media, and the extent to which such discourses of (multi)cultural citizenship publicly disavow—yet remain strongly marked by—exclusionary concepts of racialized difference.

Item Type:Article
Research Community:University of Westminster > Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages, School of
ID Code:10726
Deposited On:16 Jul 2012 11:57
Last Modified:16 Jul 2012 11:57

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