Boundary Struggles: Contestations of Free Speech in the Norwegian Public Sphere

Authors

Arnfinn H. Midtbøen; Kari Steen-Johnsen; KJersti Thorbjørnsrud; Audun Fladmoe; Marjan Nadim; Hallvard Moe; Karoline Andrea Ihlebæk; Ingrid Endresen Thorseth; Terje Colbjørnsen; Bernard Enjolras

Synopsis

Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right and a core value in liberal democracies. It is also, however, one of our time’s most contested issues, constantly claimed to be either too wide-ranging, at the peril of vulnerable minority groups, or too limited, restricting dissent and democratic deliberation. Employing a sociological lens on the dynamics of the public sphere, this book investigates how the boundaries of free speech are contested and negotiated through social processes which silence certain groups and opinions while amplifying others. The book focuses on key topics in current free speech debates – immigration, religion and culture. Drawing on population-representative survey data, media analysis and in-depth interviews, the authors paint a broad picture of how boundaries of free speech are defined and maintained, experienced and challenged, in the rapidly changing Norwegian public sphere.

The analyses in this book build on four years of work on a large-scale project called The Status of Freedom of Speech in Norway, funded and initiated by the Fritt Ord foundation. The book presents the key findings of the second round of this project.

 

Sammendrag

Hvor trekkes grensene i den offentlige debatten? Hva slags ytringer blir møtt med moralsk fordømmelse, skarp offentlig debatt eller simpelthen stille forbigåelse? Og hva er konsekvensene for dem som ytrer seg om kontroversielle tema i offentlige fora? Boka Boundary Struggles: Contestations of Free Speech in the Norwegian Public Sphere bygger på empiriske studier av holdninger og erfaringer knyttet til ytringsfrihet, med bruk av surveyundersøkelser, innholdsanalyser og kvalitative dybdeintervjuer. Sentralt i boken står ideen om at det offentlige rommet er åsted for kamper om definisjonsmakt og konflikt om hvor grensene bør gå for hvem som får delta i offentligheten, og hvilke meninger som kan ytres.

Forfatterne anlegger et bredt sosiologisk perspektiv på ytringsfrihet og viser med utgangspunkt i spørsmål om innvandring, religion og kultur hvordan utstøting og selvbegrensning er mekanismer som regulerer hvem som deltar og hva som ytres i norsk offentlighet. Boka viser også hvordan de redaksjonelle medienes rolle som portvokter av offentlig debatt er i spill, utfordret av grenseløse nettmedier på den ene side og et skeptisk publikum på den andre.

Boken er sluttresultatet av prosjektet Status for ytringsfriheten i Norge 2015-2017, som er finansiert av Fritt Ord.

Chapters

  • Chapter 1: Boundary-making in the public sphere
    Contestations of free speech
    Arnfinn H. Midtbøen, Kari Steen-Johnsen, KJersti Thorbjørnsrud
  • Chapter 2: Silenced by hate?
    Hate speech as a social boundary to free speech
    Audun Fladmoe, Marjan Nadim
  • Chapter 3: Willingness to discuss the publishing of religious cartoons
    Spiral of silence in the privat and public spheres
    Audun Fladmoe, Kari Steen-Johnsen
  • Chapter 3: Appendix
  • Chapter 4: Perceptions of journalistic bias
    Party preference, media trust and attitudes towards immigration
    Hallvard Moe, KJersti Thorbjørnsrud, Audun Fladmoe
  • Chapter 5: Editorial perspectives on the public debate on immigration
    Karoline Andrea Ihlebæk, Ingrid Endresen Thorseth
  • Chapter 6: Debating freedom of expression in Norwegian media
    Critical moments, positions and arguments
    Terje Colbjørnsen
  • Chapter 7: Boundaries of free speech in the political field
    Arnfinn H. Midtbøen
  • Chapter 8: Ascribed representation
    Ethnic and religious minorities in the mediated public sphere
    Marjan Nadim
  • Chapter 9: Immigration critique
    Moral boundaries, silence and polarization
    KJersti Thorbjørnsrud
  • Chapter 10: Boundary work in the public sphere
    Bernard Enjolras
  • Appendix: Population Survey 2013 Documentation and Questionnaire
  • Appendix: Population Survey 2015 Questionnaire

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Author Biographies

Arnfinn H. Midtbøen

Arnfinn H. Midtbøen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Research. He earned his PhD in Sociology from the University of Oslo in 2013. Midtbøen works on a broad set of research issues related to immigration, citizenship, free speech, integration and patterns of exclusion and inclusion in the labour market. He is head of the project The Status of Freedom of Speech in Norway

Kari Steen-Johnsen

Kari Steen-Johnsen is a Research Professor and Research Director for the group Politics, Democracy, Civil Society at the Institute for Social Research. Her research interests include political mobilization and participation and public debate and the freedom of speech, with an emphasis on the consequences of digitalization and the emergence of social media. 

KJersti Thorbjørnsrud

Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Research. She earned her PhD in Media and Journalism from the University of Oslo in 2008. Her research concerns political communication, media, migration, journalism, public policy and administration.

Audun Fladmoe

Audun Fladmoe is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Research. He has a PhD in Political Science from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU, 2012). His main research interests include civic and political engagement, public opinion, freedom of speech, and hate speech.

Marjan Nadim

Marjan Nadim is a Senior Resarch Fellow at the Institute for Social Research. She has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Oslo (2014), and her research interests include immigrants and children of immigrants in education and the labour market, gender equality, hate speech and free speech. 

Hallvard Moe

Hallvard Moe is a Professor of Media Studies, University of Bergen, where he also earned his PhD in 2009. Moe is interested in the role of media in democracy, and is currently researching citizens’ public connection.

Karoline Andrea Ihlebæk

Karoline Andrea Ihlebæk holds a PhD from the Department of media and communication at the University of Oslo, where she is currently employed as a Postdoctoral fellow. She is also an Associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and  Technology, and an affiliated researcher at the Center for Research on Extremism: The Extreme Right, Hate Crime and Political Violence (C-REX). Political communication,
journalism, public debate, audience participation, migration, free speech, media power, and editorial strategies are among her research interests

Ingrid Endresen Thorseth

Ingrid Endresen Thorseth has been working as a Research assistant for the Department of media and communication at the University of Oslo. She is currently enrolled in the Master’s program Nordic Media, writing her thesis on marketing, job  advertising and where people are looking for jobs in Norway. Thorseth has held various positions in fields such as HR, journalism, communication and marketing

Terje Colbjørnsen

Terje Colbjørnsen has a PhD from the Department of media and communication, University of Oslo. He has worked on research issues related to digitalization and innovation in the book industry and freedom of speech. Colbjørnsen is currently working as an adviser for The Norwegian Association of Researcher (Forskerforbundet).

Bernard Enjolras

Bernard Enjolras is a Research Professor at the Institute for social research and Director of the Center for Research on Civil Society and Voluntary Sector. He received his PhD in Economics from Université de Paris I. Panthéon Sorbonne, Paris in 1994 and his PhD in Sociology from Université du Québec à Montréal in 2006. His research interests are related to different aspects of civil society and the third sector, public policies and governance issues, civic and political engagement, social media and digitalization, terror and trust, and freedom of speech.

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