‘It’s time we invested in stronger borders’: Media representations of refugees crossing the English Channel by boat

Parker, Samuel and Bennett, Sophie and Cobden, Chyna Mae and Earnshaw, Deborah (2021) ‘It’s time we invested in stronger borders’: Media representations of refugees crossing the English Channel by boat. Critical Discourse Studies. ISSN 1740-5912

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Refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea in small boats has become a common sight in the media, particularly since the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ in 2015. The number of boats crossing the English Channel between the French and UK coasts has been increasing as other migration routes have been closed down. This article reports the findings of a discourse analysis of 96 UK newspaper articles published in December 2018 when the daily crossings were referred to as a “major crisis”. Adopting a broadly critical discursive psychology perspective, we identify the use of three main interpretative repertoires used within the media reporting. Firstly, a ‘secure the borders’ repertoire which positions the UK’s borders as porous and easily breached, secondly, a ‘smuggling is immoral’ repertoire which works to position smugglers as to blame for the current ‘crisis’ and removes responsibility for the crisis from the Government, and finally, a ‘desperate people’ repertoire which worked to position the refugees themselves as vulnerable and in need of protection, but also as people who will engage in risky behaviours. We suggest that the use of these repertoires ultimately functions to obscure the need for safe and legal migration routes to the UK.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2021.1920998
16 April 2021Accepted
29 April 2021Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Refugees, English Channel, migrants, discursive psychology, discourse analysis
Subjects: CAH04 - psychology > CAH04-01 - psychology > CAH04-01-01 - psychology (non-specific)
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences > Dept. Psychology
Depositing User: Samuel Parker
Date Deposited: 06 May 2021 14:24
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2022 03:00
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11600

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