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Title: Representations of racial difference and 'white anxiety' in the USA and UK : the 1992 US and 1997 UK election campaigns
Author: Vautier, Elaine
ISNI:       0000 0001 3543 6646
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2005
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This thesis examines the construction of White anxiety through an analysis of discursive strategies used to marshal racialised fears and resentments within the context of specific political cultures. Here, White anxiety is defined as the imagined threats and displacements felt in response to the presence of those identified as ethnically or racially different, and in particular fears of loss over resources assumed to be scarce. I analyse the way political discourses in the USA and the UK deploy or negotiate such white anxiety in the post-war period with specific case studies focussed on the 1992 US and 1997 UK election campaigns. The topic of 'race' in contemporary politics has proved to be a potent and difficult issue for politicians. On the one hand appeals to 'race' and racialised resentments continue to be assumed as vote winners. On the other hand, in liberal democracies such as the US and the UK, such appeals attract accusations of 'playing the race card' to signify improper politics. These accusations prompt contrasting political responses and media participation in each country. The comparative analysis indicates the importance of specific political cultures in the construction and deployment of White anxieties grounded in assumptions of popular racisms. What is common to both contexts is that politicians with the help of the media rely upon and tacitly collude with White racialised resentments keeping notions of immutable racial differences in play. This is done through appeals that have distinct historical and contingent resonances. I have identified three narrative frames that have been persistently deployed, with contingent modifications, in order to marshal and construct White anxieties within each political culture. In Britain immigration numbers linked to racial harmony has been an enduring theme, supplemented by a second narrative frame of nation and belonging. In the US the dominant theme is tax resentments linked to Affirmative Action, with a second frame of national belonging becoming increasingly important. I show how the development of these historically and culturally specific narrative frames have retained validity and resonance even as they have been modified for new conjunctures.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available