Human rights in public, online discourses. How human rights are constructed, perceived, and discussed in European liberal democracies

Thumbnail Image
Ambjörnsson, Rebecka
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Despite an increased interest in modern threats to Human Rights (HRs), there is still a lack of knowledge about public support for HRs in European liberal democracies. In order to start bridging this academic gap, public discourses in German and Swedish online forums are analysed in the thesis at hand. By conducting grounded theory research with a poststructural approach, the author seeks to answer how HRs are constructed, perceived, and discussed in various public discourses. The data, which was collected from commentary sections to newspapers’ Facebook posts that mentioned human rights, was coded and processed inductively. Thereafter, a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) was conducted and a poststructural perspective was adopted to interpret the results. The thesis pays special attention to the contexts in which HRs discourses appear, the strong relation between Other-positioning and perceptions of HRs’ universalism, and attitudes towards HRs. The research showed that dissatisfaction is ingrained in public HRs discourses, and that parts of the public are only exposed to HRs in contexts of bad news or disappointment. Further, numerous links between Othering-practices and claims of HRs’ conditionality, as well as between victim constructions and HRs’ universalism, are presented. Most importantly, the thesis emphasises the need to thoroughly examine and understand HRs discourses in order to strategically increase HRs awareness and support among the public. Key words: Human rights, Online research, Discourse analysis, Public discourse, Human rights support, Public opinion
Second semester University:University of Hamburg
human rights, European countries, public opinion, media