How the Workers Became Muslims

Immigration, Culture, and Hegemonic Transformation in Europe

Subjects: Cultural Studies, Class Studies, Race and Ethnicity, Islamic Studies
Hardcover : 9780472073085, 254 pages, 2 figures, 10 tables, 6 x 9, February 2016
Paperback : 9780472053087, 254 pages, 2 figures, 10 tables, 6 x 9, February 2016
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An exploration of immigration, and how European far right groups attract seemingly left populations by emphasizing culture over economics

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Writing in the beginning of the 1980s, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe explored possibilities for a new socialist strategy to capitalize on the period’s fragmented political and social conditions. Two and a half decades later, Ferruh Yilmaz acknowledges that the populist Far Right—not the socialist movement—has demonstrated greater facility in adopting successful hegemonic strategies along new structural lines Laclau and Mouffe imagined. Right-wing hegemonic strategy, Yilmaz argues, has led to the reconfiguration of internal fault lines in European societies.

Yilmaz’s primary case study is Danish immigration discourse, but his argument contextualizes his study in terms of questions of current concern across Europe, where right-wing groups that were long on the fringes of “legitimate” politics have managed to make significant gains with populations traditionally aligned with the Left. Specifically, Yilmaz argues that sociopolitical space has been transformed in the last three decades such that group classification has been destabilized to emphasize cultural rather than economic attributes.

According to this point-of-view, traditional European social and political splits are jettisoned for new “cultural” alliances pulling the political spectrum to the right, against the “corrosive” presence of Muslim immigrants, whose own social and political variety is flattened into an illusion of alien sameness.

Ferruh Yilmaz is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Tulane University.

“[A] remarkable study on the ways racism has taken in Western Europe, in particular in relations between Muslim immigrants and Western European states. Yilmaz has made a first-rate intervention on the discussion concerning national, popular, and ethnic identities in the contemporary world. His contribution to contemporary scholarship is outstanding.”
—Ernesto Laclau, author of On Populist Reason

“Yilmaz’s important book charts the rise of culture as the dominant framework through which we now understand the politics of migration in Europe. He gives a theoretically sophisticated account of the production of the ‘Muslim immigrant,’ the rise of right-wing populism, and the way ‘progressive’ values—including those of feminism and gay rights—have come to serve racist and exclusionary ends."
—Ben Pitcher, University of Westminster 

"Highly recommendable book that will be [valuable] for readers with an interest in discourse analysis and hegemony theory, in populism and in politics of migration."
--Nordic Journal of Migration Research

- Martin Bak Jørgensen

"I am impressed by Professor Yilmaz’s scholarly work, his unarguable dedication to creative scholarship, and the innovative and scholarly energy he brings with the publication of this book. It should prove to be of interest to a wide range of scholarship, from those interested in moral panics and Islamophobia to populism and the impact of the far right on the social imaginary of Western societies."
--European Journal of Communication

- European Journal of Communication

"A great achievement which will be of interest to a wide range of scholars and students seeking to understand our contemporary political struggles."
--Journal of Language and Politics

- Journal of Language and Politics

"It is one of the most lucid, original and informative accounts of how Denmark, the Nordics and wider Europe got into the most depressing state this reviewer has ever seen, and deserves a wide readership."
Patterns of Prejudice

- Sindre Bangstad