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Title: Free speech, tolerance, offence and diversity : a comparative study of France and Denmark using the cases of Dieudonné and Yahya Hassan
Author: Elliott-Harvey, Charlotte Karen
ISNI:       0000 0004 7233 7374
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines how notions of freedom of speech, tolerance, and diversity are negotiated and tested by media controversies prompted by provocative speech acts. The study draws upon two cases from the creative realm: French comedian Dieudonné and Danish poet Yahya Hassan, both of whom have engaged in transgressive speech acts. As country cases, France has a history of immigration and cultural diversity, but Denmark is relatively new to this; yet in recent years, both have engaged in debates about freedom of speech and minority groups. The ways that these issues are then addressed sheds light on how changing societies respond to controversy. This is where the research questions are located: How are the parameters of freedom of speech, tolerance and offence renegotiated in times of change? How do such renegotiations take shape in different national contexts, such as in France and Denmark? How do provocative speech acts in the creative realm test the boundaries of freedom of speech? Finally, how do nationhood, identity and diversity impact public debates about these provocative speech acts? Using a Thematic Analysis of 95 articles from one centre-left and one centre-right newspaper per country about the cases, as well as 21 in-person interviews held in Paris and Copenhagen with activists, journalists, politicians, lawyers and artists, the findings highlight how an expressive act might originate from one individual, but it can create tensions in different ways as it travels through various modes of interpretation and social discourse. What the findings show is that this mediated dynamic tests democratic values such as freedom of speech, because its parameters are being challenged, questioned, or renegotiated through these types of embodied communication, and they reveal how consensus on the acceptable parameters of speech must shift in order to accommodate the diversification of culture in each country context.
Supervisor: Voltmer, Katrin ; Parry, Katy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available