The aim of this event is to share doctoral research with staff and other PoLIS students, opening up discussions around their work.

Each presenter will have 15 minutes to present their work. This will be followed by a Q&A and discussion.

The showcase will be split into two separate panel events. Both will take place in Chancellors' Buiding 4.10.

Panel 1: Discourse and Policy

  • Date: Wednesday 9 March 2022
  • Time: 2:30pm - 4pm

Panel 2: Foreign Policy & Political Activism

  • Date: Wednesday 16 March 2022
  • Time: 2:30pm - 4pm

Panel 1: Discourse and Policy

The following papers will be presented during this session.

Mainstream constructions of the far right: how talking ‘about’ can lead to mainstreaming

Speaker: Katy Brown

Over recent years, far-right parties have seen varying fortunes across different contexts, from entrance into coalition government to electoral failure, from cordon sanitaire to mainstreaming. While much attention has been paid to the actions of the far-right itself, there has been less scrutiny of the role played by mainstream actors in normalising such politics, whether electorally, attitudinally, or discursively. In particular, there has been limited engagement with how mainstream actors talk ‘about’ the far right, that is, how they refer to and discursively construct this group, and the impact this has for normalisation and mainstreaming.

This paper examines the strategies used by mainstream actors when referring to the far right, using Brexit as a case study. Specifically, it investigates the ways in which the official Leave and Remain campaigns discursively constructed the far right (namely UKIP) during this period. Seven principal strategies were identified: dissociation, delegitimisation, idealisation, legitimisation, deflection, euphemisation and recontextualisation. While these strategies are in some cases complementary and others contradictory, their combination at once reifies the mainstream’s position as opposed to the far right while normalising the discourse and language on which such parties or groups rely.

Keeping Britain in Europe: A study of pro-Europe rhetoric in the 1975 and 2016 British referendums on European integration

Speaker: Mike Bolt

In the wake of the 2016 EU referendum, there has been a revival of scholarly interest in Britain’s first referendum on membership of the then European Community in 1975 (Saunders, 2016; 2018; Aqui, 2020). With some commentators highlighting parallels and differences between both referenda, in particular, the similarities between the efforts of Harold Wilson and David Cameron to seek to maintain party unity over Europe (Saunders, 2016; Bush, 2016).

The 1975 referendum has been characterised as a “product of the 1970s” (Aqui, 2020) in contemporary literature. However, does this claim stand up to further scrutiny given the various similarities between the referendums? To examine this, I draw upon archival sources to analyse and contrast political rhetoric from leading figures in the 1975 and 2016 referendum campaigns. This research uses the framework of Rhetorical Political Analysis (RPA) to analyse the rhetorical efforts of the Pro-Marketeers and Remainers who made the case for Britain to stay in the EC/EU. Preliminary analysis suggests that there are clear affinities between the arguments and rhetoric deployed by political actors across both referenda. This demonstrates, in some ways, how little the British conversation over Europe had changed between its first and second plebiscites on the matter.

A Meme is worth 1,000 words: the role of memes in online political communication

Speaker: Mimi Mihailescu

This thesis explores the communicative power of memes, providing a theoretical background and empirical evaluation of the use of memes in political communication, the framing of politics and political actors in the memes, and their potential to be powerful agenda-setters in political and public discourse. The papers aim to fill a gap in the political communication literature in the Eastern European context and to provide an insight into memes as a new form of political communication that is embedded within the standard set of communication tools by political actors.

The data will be analysed using a combination of quantitative and qualitative content analysis to explore the themes and frames found in the memes and the text attached to them. Furthermore, a qualitative method of thematic analysis will be employed through interviews with administrators and moderators of popular Facebook meme pages, to understand how political memes are being generated.

This project aims to:

  • provide an outlook of how memes are used in a political setting, identifying the political narratives and frames within the context of Romania and the UK
  • contribute to the knowledge base of Eastern European political studies and provide a reference point for further investigation, especially in the cross-cultural analysis of memes

Classification Systems as policy decisions: emergence, evolution, and deviation

Speaker: Alice Parfett

Population-wide racial classification systems have existed throughout human history, but the systems and their outcomes vary hugely. Despite these differences, we believe that general patterns explain why classification systems emerge and their consequences exist. Most research to date has, however, studied the broader historical events surrounding the individual classification systems, paying little attention to general patterns explaining the emergence and consequences of such systems throughout history. To fill this gap, we develop an original theoretical model explaining the creation, progression, and outcomes of classification systems. The applicability of the model is then tested for three cases of classification systems throughout history: the Nazis’ classification of Europe’s populations during their rule (1933-1945), Apartheid governments’ classifications of the South African population (1948 -1990s), and the use of US-VISIT on the borders of America following the eleventh September 2001 attacks. Early findings suggest that the model applies to all three of the case studies, allowing for differing degrees of importance for the different explanatory variables such as technological capabilities, leaders’ strategies, and development levels. Finally, next steps will be discussed as this paper and PhD project are in their early stages.

Panel 2: Foreign Policy & Political Activism

The following papers will be presented during this session.

Role theory in narrow social contexts: the case of Russian digital disinformation in British foreign policy

Speaker: Sean Garrett

This paper extends the use of role theory to narrow social contexts. Role theory is extensively used to explain individual foreign policy (FP) decisions, broad international positions of states, or long-term patterns of FP behaviour. However, role theory has yet to focus on narrow social contexts of specific issue areas.

This paper uses role theory to reveal how beliefs about specific FP issue areas unfold in patterns of FP behaviour. The use of narrative methodology centralises actor experiences with a specific issue area and identifies the international narration of an actor’s role. This narrow approach to roles is applied to the case of British FP behaviours emerging from its understandings of Russian digital disinformation. Russian digital disinformation is applied because it is an evolving technological challenge that must be continually reinterpreted by the UK. Evolving British understandings produce roles specific to itself, Russia, and digital disinformation, setting expectations for patterns of future FP behaviours. These roles can refer to proximity to other actors, responsibility, status, and capabilities.

US civil-military relations and foreign policy making: analysing the Carter administration's United States Forces Korea withdrawal policy, 1977-79

Speaker: Juhong Park

Although the USFK has played a vital role in deterring war on the Korean Peninsula, it has been withdrawn five times due to the unilateral decision of the United States. Unusually, the Carter administration's withdrawal policy, which includes whole ground forces, is the only case not executed. Due to the US-China and US-Soviet détente, the security environment in East Asia was stable, and Korea agreed to withdraw in exchange for enormous military aid. Still, the policy was discontinued by the U.S. government itself. Because of this particularity, various studies had conducted to identify the cause of withdrawal policy failure. However, the effect of the political tactics of U.S. generals on the failure of the withdrawal policy was overlooked.

This study explores the US civil-military friction, military's political tactics, and foreign policy failure through the USFK withdrawal policy process. Moreover, the study adopts a process-tracing and documentary analysis to track the withdrawal policy trajectory. Significantly, the 'broken dialogue' model provides a clue to solving complex foreign policy puzzles. It illustrates that the ultimate right for policy-making rests with the political leader, but the military leader's professional advice should be provided before decision-making. However, if a dialogue structure between a political leader and military leader is broken, political tactics by the military may undermine foreign policy implementation.

Jou-naissance – or can surrealist methods of resistance offer us a way to recover from ‘the modern condition’?

Speaker: Jess Mezo

Much has been said about the problem of learnt helplessness, as well as the loss of control, agency and access to meaningful political participation that permeates communities around the world. Growing inequalities, the rise of populism, disengagement, and the normalisation of a consumerist escapism-via-hedonism have all been tied back to these core issues, however, public individuals and academics remain surprisingly opaque about possible avenues of addressing and resolving them, at least insofar as these possible methods forego partisan messaging and voter mobilisation.

My research addresses this disparity by exploring the concept of jounaissance (individual/collective renaissance through jouissance or pleasure derived from participation) in order to propose a new teché of the self aimed to help the individual escape the systemic ‘overcode’ and reclaim his agency. In my research, I focus on how this new teché of the self intertwines with and derives some of its proposed potency from a Deleuzian concept of nomadic identity acquisition, the Marcusian paradox of (Surreal) resistance, the unknown depths of the Lacanian ‘Real’, as well as that of the Death Drive.