Refugee representations and discourses in Australian newspapers during 1992-1993 and 2015-2016

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This study employs a comparative analysis, combining content and discourse analysis, to explore dominant refugee representations and discourses in Austrian media and address the question whether reactions towards refugee movements in the last thirty years were justified or whether they are better classified as moral panics. Two periods were chosen for close investigation: the refugee movement in the early 1990s and the refugee movement of 2015/2016. Both periods were characterized by heavy debates on the consequences of refugee arrivals for the Austrian society, in particular on threats and risks. Hence, refugee discourses can also be referred to as risk discourses, relating to the moral panic concept. Moral panics are usually defined as short-lived phenomena. Fear and hostility during the analysed refugee movements, however, were part of the general atmosphere and overall discourse in society and did not erupt suddenly as a result of one particular event. Moreover, refugee discourses were found to have persisted over a long time period. They are deeply ingrained in society and have remained more or less the same over the last sixty years. Hence, reactions to the two refugee movements cannot be classified as moral panics – despite the strong dominance of concerns and hostility.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen