Redistribution and Recognition for Migrants and Refugees in Aotearoa New Zealand: Neo-Liberal and Multicultural Discourses in NGO Claims-Talk
Fraser, R. M. (2011). Redistribution and Recognition for Migrants and Refugees in Aotearoa New Zealand: Neo-Liberal and Multicultural Discourses in NGO Claims-Talk (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/6020
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/6020
Located in demographically diverse Aotearoa New Zealand, this thesis provides evidence that claims made by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on behalf of refugees and migrants are defined by discourses that interact to provide improved outcomes, but also reproduce marginalisation. My core argument contends that while the parameters of social justice in society are framed by the key concerns of redistribution and recognition, as Nancy Fraser (1997) has asserted, these concerns are also discursively constructed. In order to develop a fuller understanding of redistribution and recognition, the thesis maps them to the key discourses within the settlement sector, described as those of neo-liberalism and multiculturalism. The former (even while it is currently influenced by a turn towards social cohesion) draws on economic ideologies and remains the dominant state discourse of Aotearoa New Zealand. The latter has been identified internationally as a discourse relating to the settlement of migrant and refugee minority cultures within a state. Neo-liberalism and multiculturalism offer distinct and comprehensive responses to social justice. As this thesis demonstrates, redistribution is positioned discursively as either a modest safety net or as a right to rectify structural and/or historical injustice. The discourses also provide alternative conceptions of how to recognise the migrant or refugee individual: as either a culture-free market oriented individual, or a culture-bearing community member. It is in the tension of these two discourses that NGOs frame their claims for redistribution and recognition. This thesis comprises a critical discourse analysis which investigates the claims-talk of NGOs in this environment, identifying what NGOs involved in the resettlement of migrants and refugees say when making claims to the state. Drawing on interviews with ten different actors working within nine NGOs, a small survey of thirteen NGOs, and information displayed on websites of seven NGOs – some of the largest working in the settlement sector – I establish the ways in which questions of social justice are discursively constructed in Aotearoa New Zealand. I further determine how these NGOs negotiate conflict and alignment between the discourses, to consider the points at which their negotiations fail or succeed in building better social justice. I find that NGOs use the discourses of neo-liberalism and multiculturalism strategically, frequently deploying them together, or using one to counter potential or perceived negative effects from the other. Lastly, I identify points of unresolved tension in the discourses, particularly regarding the positioning of ‘need’ as a claim upon the state. This thesis thus extends existing scholarship on multiculturalism, neo-liberalism, and recognition and redistribution, and draws together these diverse bodies of theory to elucidate the complex nature of claims-making in the settlement sector in Aotearoa New Zealand.
University of Waikato
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