‘It’s not racist. It’s common sense.’ A critical analysis of political discourse around asylum and immigration in the UK

Capdevila, Rose and Callaghan, Jane E. M. (2008). ‘It’s not racist. It’s common sense.’ A critical analysis of political discourse around asylum and immigration in the UK. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 18(1) pp. 1–16.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.904

URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/casp.90...

Abstract

This paper looks at a political speech given by the leader of the opposition party during the run up to the UK elections in 2005. Using this speech as a starting point, we attempt to trace the path of ‘racism’ within a text that makes explicit claims to being ‘not racist’. Drawing on a number of theoretical and methodological resources, this paper approaches the analysis by focusing on a number of conceptually heterogeneous elements that, in relation with each other, function to produce, re-produce and stabilize ‘racism’. One of the difficulties commonly encountered in social psychological work, we would suggest, is that an explicit statement of allegiance to a particular methodological and theoretical tradition can also result in a restriction of theorization to a particular ‘level of analysis’. That is to say, a methodological process that constructs a pre-given category, presets the criteria by which ‘racism’ can be identified and fixes the ‘level of analysis’ at which it can be studied risks ignoring the multiple points of contact at which ‘racism’ can be made visible or made to disappear.

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