Mobilizing Victimhood: Blaming and Claiming the Victim in Conservative Discourse in Canada

Title: Mobilizing Victimhood: Blaming and Claiming the Victim in Conservative Discourse in Canada
Authors: Gordon, Kelly
Date: 2018-06-22
Abstract: When it comes to the politics of victimhood, existing academic accounts contend that conservative politics and ideology have largely been defined by a backlash against discourses of victimization. In this respect, North American conservatism is seen as embodying an anti-victimist approach – one where progressive claims of victimhood are represented as the result of an impaired character rather than as the result of systemic cultural and legal discrimination. However, while this literature accurately captures many characteristics of conservative ideology, it risks overlooking the ways that conservative proactively engage with the politics of victimhood and victim arguments. This dissertation offers an examination of the discursive significance of the “victim” in contemporary conservative politics and ideology through an analysis of three realms of conservative politics in Canada: (1) the men’s rights movement, (2) the anti-abortion movement, and (3) the Conservative Party of Canada. Drawing on the results of a large-scale critical discourse analysis and the participant observation of over a dozen conservative events in Canada, this dissertation contends that the debate over the politics of victimhood is not a battle between anti-victim conservative and pro-victim progressives. Rather, contemporary Canadian conservatives are increasingly makers of victim politics – rather than its critics – challenging many academic assumptions made about both conservative ideology and discourse in Canada, as well as the larger politics of victimhood in North America.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -