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Governing belonging and identity : a Foucauldian analysis of Danish immigration and subjectification


Erdinc, Mujde;

Institution: University of Limerick
Subject Keywords: immigration; Denmark;

The issue of immigration is one of the most debated fields in European politics, especially in terms of the interaction between a representational framework of identities and policy making instruments within legal structures. Within this context, Denmark poses a controversial
example with its social democratic welfare model based on equal rights and universality, but also as a country which has been moving from a comparatively liberal stance on immigration towards a more conservative direction. The Danish parliamentary elections of 2001 and the
following legal changes are one of the most important examples for this transformation.
The central aim of this thesis is to critically examine immigration governance in Denmark by focusing on family reunion. By examining the discursive transformation in immigration governance in Denmark, this research draws attention to the controversial dynamics in terms of the empirical gap between the ideational structure of policy making strategies and the
definition of identities as a problem of the population. In order to reveal this gap, it proposes a methodological analysis which connects the top-down (political discourse on immigration) and bottom-up (subjection) analysis and generates a theoretical approach on the basis of a Foucauldian ‘governmentality’ framework. This framework focuses on problematisation of
Danish immigration as a gendered and racialised discursive process by which borders between ‘included’ and ‘excluded’ are drawn.
By referring to ‘belonging’ as the main analytical concept, the governmentality framework in this research illustrates how a biopolitical governance of immigration controls and manages the population in Denmark through particular modes of subjectification. In connecting macro
and micro level of analysis it shows how subjective interpretations of immigrants are shaped in face of truth discourses on immigration governance in Denmark. For doing this it refers to a narrative analysis of the data obtained by interviews with immigrant women as subjects to Danish immigration governance. Through this examination, this research ultimately aims to
examine the interplay between governmental discourses and self-positioning of subjects. By revealing the complementary and contradictory discourses by immigrant women it challenges the way subjects are represented within immigration governance, and offers a deeper perspective to the politics of identity and immigration.

Suggested citation:

Erdinc, Mujde; . () Governing belonging and identity : a Foucauldian analysis of Danish immigration and subjectification [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 18th October 2019].


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