Utanförskapandet - en diskursanalys av begreppet utanförskap
In this essay my aim is to examine how the term utanförskap is constructed and defined as a social problem in the public arena of the Swedish Parliament. The term utanförskap was widely used in the election-campaign prior to the Swedish Parliament election in the year 2006. The term, mainly articulated by the Right-wing Alliance, was used to describe indi-viduals and groups that were depicted as being outside the Swedish society. In the political debate, work and benefit dependency were constructed as binary opposites, with the latter describing the individuals in utanförskap. Translated to English the term utanförskap would be something like ”the state of being outside” or ”outsidership”. The questions I intend to answer in the essay are: • How does the discourse about utanförskap relate to other similar terms and discourses? • How is utanförskap constructed as a social problem in the debate within the Swedish Parliament? • What meanings are utanförskap given in the debate within the Swedish Parliament? I have analyzed the public political debate in the Swedish parliament between 1990 and 2008 and used discourse theory and critical discourse analysis to do so. Moreover, I have used theo-ries about the construction of social problems to analyze how utanförskap has been con-structed and defined as a social problem. I have found that utanförskap was constructed as a social problem through classic prob-lem-defining rhetoric. Utanförskap was constructed as the consequence of the policies of the traditional welfare state that, according to the debate, led people to abuse the welfare pro-grams and therefore ended up in passivity and benefit dependency. In addition, the cultural differences between native Swedes and immigrants were constructed as a cause to the ex-panded utanförskap. Violence and criminality were constructed as the consequences of utan-förskap. The conclusion that I draw from the material is that the term utanförskap is related to the terms underclass and social exclusion that have been used in social policies in respectively the US and the Great Britain. The slogan ”from welfare into work” can be found in the articu-lation of all three of these terms. Utanförskap has been constructed as a defined space which contains people that have been defined as culturally different from a majority that holds jobs. In contrary to the people in utanförskap, the majority is never constructed as problematic in any way. Moreover, utanförskap is constructed as an object, never as a process, which has led to the definition that being in utanförskap is a real and permanent position.