The role of agency in the securitisation of migration: How Hungarian police interpret securitising discourse

Authors: Gyollai, D.

Conference: Glasgow Caledonian University


Integrating the discursive and practice-based approaches to securitisation, this thesis explores how the police function as the audience of securitising discourse. Taking the example of Hungary, it analyses how the police involved in migration and border control make sense of securitising discourses of the political elite, and how that impacts on their occupational identity and everyday routine. More specifically, based on semi-structured interviews with the police in 2019, the thesis looks into the police’s understanding of their role in relation to migration in light of anti-immigrant discourse. Discourses have the potential to influence interpretation, whereby members of the audience come to identify with the subject-positions the speaker aims to pursue. Such presentation of policy objectives reflects and, simultaneously, reproduces certain beliefs and attitudes that are salient to the audience. To understand this persuasive function of discourse, one must look into the process of meaning constitution and intersubjective understanding. Adopting a combined phenomenological and socio-cognitive approach, the thesis gives an insight into the underlying mechanisms by which this is, potentially, done in the field of border control in Hungary. Applying 1) Alfred Schutz’ theory of relevance and ideal types, it provides a possible explanation of why the stereotype of the Hungarian Roma is used by the police when self-categorising; 2) drawing on the concept of the narrative self, it explains how historical narratives and the collective memory of the Ottoman conquest may have shaped the occupational identity and self-interpretation of those involved in border control; and 3) it explores how the paradigm of inauthenticity, both in the Heideggerian and Sartrean sense, might play a role when policing migrants, i.e. why and how the police have “fallen prey” to anti-immigrant public sentiments towards migration and have used the superior orders defence in denying their freedom of choice in the face of their role expectations. Ultimately, this is a dissertation on how narratives affect the ways in which individuals perform their role. It uses the police as a case study and Hungary as a context.

Source: Manual