Boundaries of free speech in the political field
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Building on in-depth interviews with the leaders of Norway’s political youth organizations, this chapter focuses on two types of barriers to free speech that are at work in the political field: First, external barriers resulting from harassment and threats related to identity markers like gender, sexuality, disability and ethnic background. Second, internal barriers stemming from informal party cultures characterized by conformity pressure and silencing mechanisms. These barriers constitute boundaries of free speech which influence some politicians more than others. On the one hand, individuals who bear ‘marks of difference’ seem to be the major recipients of external harassment and threats, raising the cost of engaging publicly in controversial issues. On the other hand, politicians embedded in informal party cultures characterized by ‘cultures of expression’ which discourage political dissent, seem to face social sanctions potentially leading them to silence their voices. Implications for free speech legislation and the future recruitment to politics are discussed.