Dissertation Abstracts

Fortified Societies: The Mobilisation of Shared Anxieties

Author: Alexander Mack, alexander.rkl.mack@gmx.com
Department: International Politics
University: Aberystwyth University, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Andrew Linklater & Patrick Finney
Year of completion: 2018
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: shared anxieties , orientation , fortification , representation
Areas of Research: Historical and Comparative Sociology , Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty , Language and Society


My thesis argues that shared anxieties embedded in representations of transnational migration fortified societal orientations in Britain and Australia. The language of political leaders in liberal democratic societies frequently interpret the transnational movement of people in conflicting ways. On the one hand, there are appeals to a more open society with more diverse sets of identifications and the loosening of societal regulations. On the other hand, there are appeals to a more closed society, with more narrow sets of identifications and the tightening of societal regulations. I build a sociological model for shared anxieties that synthesises features of process and risk sociology, developed by Norbert Elias and Ulrich Beck respectively. This synthesis offered a conceptual vocabulary to investigate the migration representations embedded within the speeches, interviews and press conferences of British and Australian Prime Ministers from 2001 to 2017. I reconstructed the societal processes that have propagated the relations expressed in the Brexit vote and the distortion of Australian diplomacy. Broader societal fears of various established groupings infused images of transnational outsiders. These stigmatising representations have raised the barriers to societal inclusion and widened forms of societal exclusion. British and Australian leaders circulated and cultivated more reductive modes of thinking and orientating.