Enemy Within: Constructing Social Exclusion in the Czech Media, 2010-2011

  • Abstract:

    Drawing from Didier Bigo’s concept of ban-opticon, Loïc Wacquant’s analysis of neoliberal governance, Ole Wæver’s securitization theory and the concept of pollution presented by Mary Douglas, we would like to analyze the interpretative frames imposed by the mass media in the Czech Republic during the years 2010 and 2011. Using CAQDAS tools (MAXQDA), we will focus on the categories representing the “post-socialist banlieus and their inhabitants: “socially excluded areas”, “ghettoes”, “socially excluded communities”, “the unadaptables” and “parasites”, i.e. the “human detritus” scattered around the urban spaces of post-socialist society that went through neoliberal social and economic transformation. We will view the proliferation of these meanings as a symptom of a wider transformation of discourses and practices of governance, constantly signifying a presence of polluted places within the domestic territory and imposing on their inhabitants the meaning of a liminal Other to be concentrated, segregated, regulated, profiled, controlled and suppressed by the repressive and penal apparatus of the state. This construction of an enemy within, the periodic moral panics about various aspects of urban marginality (crime, disease, drug abuse, extremism) and the discourses and practices purporting to deal with the pollution it represents serve as a significant resource of legitimacy which political actors and moral entrepreneurs might exploit and compensate for the losses brought by neoliberal socio-economic transformation.