How critical is the event? Multicultural Norway after 22 July 2011

Journal article

Kolås, Åshild (2017) How critical is the event? Multicultural Norway after 22 July 2011, Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture 23 (2): 1–15.

Read the article here (Open Access)

It is commonly assumed that insecurity experienced by citizens in the wake of a terror attack gives rise to public demands for strong countermeasures, which political leaders must respond to. This article asks how Norwegian society was affected by the 22 July 2011 attacks against the government office complex in Oslo and Labour Party youth camp on Utøya. Combining quantitative and qualitative methods, it analyses political impact, examining post-22 July public debates and related policymaking. A dataset of newspaper op-eds and commentaries was created to determine the significance of key issues debated in the print media after the attacks, and changes over time in the intensity of debates. Key issues were then followed up in a qualitative analysis of policy implications. The study further investigated the discursive framing of the attacks, and the problems and possible solutions evoked in the debates. Was this a ‘critical event’ as Veena Das has theorised, bringing about new sorts of action through the reworking of traditional categories, codes or meanings? Public security emerges as the key frame within which the 22 July attacks have been debated. Arguments over police reforms and alleged inaction by authorities stand out as the most lasting debate.

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