Presidential speeches and the online politics of belonging : Affective-discursive positions toward refugees in Finland and Estonia
Ojala, M., Kaasik-Krogerus, S., & Pantti, M. (2019). Presidential speeches and the online politics of belonging : Affective-discursive positions toward refugees in Finland and Estonia. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 22 (2), 164-179. doi:10.1177/1367549418823059
Published inEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
© The Authors 2019
The so-called ‘refugee crisis’ has added urgency to the social dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in European societies. This study explores how emotions figure in this politics of belonging by studying their discursive mobilization in Finnish and Estonian public debates on asylum seekers. Focusing on presidential speeches addressing the refugee issue, on the one hand, and their reception by online commenters on popular tabloid news sites, on the other, the comparative analysis highlights both similarities and differences in how emotional expressions are employed in these two countries with very different experiences of taking refugees. Despite employing common discursive elements in their speeches, the diverging national contexts prompted the two presidents to emphasize contrasting emotional positions: the insecure Finn, threatened by abusive asylum seekers, and the compassionate Estonian, capable of identifying with the plight of refugees. In contrast, the reactions to speeches by Finnish and Estonian citizens on tabloid news sites demonstrated highly converging emotional positions. Online comments in both countries revealed deep anger and distrust of political elites among tabloid news audiences, articulating a complex relationship with the nation as a divided and exclusive political community. ...