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The pragmatics of minority politics in Belgium1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2009

Jan Blommaert
Affiliation:
University of Ghent
Jef Verschueren
Affiliation:
Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research, University of Antwerp/Linguistics (GER) Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Wilrijk, Belgium

Abstract

Newspaper reports, political policy papers, and investigations by social scientists concerning issues related to the presence of a community of migrant workers in Belgium are subjected to a systematic, pragmatic analysis. The analysis reveals an eminently coherent world of beliefs and attitudes with respect to (1) perceptions of the “other,” (2) the self-perception of majority members, (3) formulations of “the problem,” and (4) proposed solutions. This world of beliefs and attitudes is shown to be centered around stable – even if vague – notions of culture, nation and state, democracy and human rights, and around related recipes for “integration” that reveal a collective psyche profoundly troubled by the very idea of diversity in society (linguistic or otherwise). Homogeneity appears to be a strict norm for average members of Belgian society, irrespective of the specific political positions they take. (Minority politics, language and ideology, pragmatics, political rhetoric, news reporting, ethnicity)

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1991

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