Arguments for European disintegration: a mobilization analysis of anti-immigration speeches by U.K. political leaders

Jennie Portice, Stephen Reicher

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

In this paper we develop a mobilisation analysis of contemporary antagonism to immigrants. We argue that such antagonism does not arise spontaneously from the cognitions of ordinary people but is mobilised by political actors. This leads us to ask why politicians mobilise such antagonisms and how they do so. Our analysis, illustrated by set piece speeches on immigration by the four main UK party political leaders in the period prior to the 2015 elections, suggests (a) that while these speeches are ostensibly about an intergroup issue they equally serve intra-group dynamics, notably demonstrating how the speaker serves national interests and hence qualifies to serve as a national representative; (b) the way that speakers mobilise antagonism to immigrants is through construing a variety of forms of threat: spatial threat, economic threat, security threat and diversity threat. We focus particularly on the last of these because of the ways in which it invokes social psychological arguments and hence speaks in our name. We conclude by raising issues of accountability – both of politicians and social psychologists – regarding the way we talk about immigration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1357-1372
JournalPolitical Psychology
Volume39
Issue number6
Early online date12 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2018

Keywords

  • Immigration
  • Mobilization
  • Social identity
  • Threat
  • Social cohesion

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