The (in)visibility of Hobson's Pledge : a struggle for survival in the socio-political environment of Aotearoa/New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Sociology at Massey University, New Zealand
This study explores the emergence of Hobson’s Pledge, as an alt-right group that attempts to influence government policy towards a state of ‘ethnic unity’. It explores how the group manages ideological contradictions so as to prevent unanticipated (political) consequences, and what the future might hold for the groups as a consequence of those strategies. Three methods are utilised to interpret the situation of Hobson’s Pledge: semi-structure face-to-face interviews; content analysis of internet text; and observations gathered from conversations with group members. Three themes emerge from the data. The first of these is: a true face of ‘whiteness’ - the dislocation of ‘coherence’. The second is: maintaining a ‘colour-blind’ New Zealand for all. With this second theme, four strategies are identified by which Hobson’s Pledge manages the contradictions that come to be revealed publically in its ideology. These strategies are: the promotion of an abstract subjectivity - the ‘New Zealand’ citizen; the issuing of a political demand for national ‘unity’; the presentation of Hobson’s Pledge as a broker of Māori rights against patronization; and the advocacy of a liberal democratic defence of fragility. The third theme is: moving into the future – a post-racial Aotearoa/New Zealand?. Within this latter theme, three moments are revealed in which the operation of Hobson’s Pledge reinforces perceptions of a ‘post-racial’ New Zealand. These moments are: reducing perceived racism to a small fraction of society; a democratic right to ‘free-speech’; and an intensification of covertness – a democratic right to oppose Māori wards. Public conversations are recommended as a mechanism by which the socially-divisive effects of Hobson’s Pledge could be engaged with, to progressive effect.