The evolving (re)categorisations of refugees throughout the ‘Refugee/Migrant crisis’

Simon Goodman, Ala Sirriyeh, Simon McMahon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
308 Downloads (Pure)


The UK media’s reporting of events in 2015 contained constantly evolving categorisations of people attempting to reach Europe and the UK, each with different implications for their treatment. A discourse analysis of UK media outputs charts the development of the terminology used to present the ‘crisis’ and those people involved. First ‘Mediterranean migrant crisis’ was used to present those involved as ‘migrants’ to be prevented from reaching Europe. Next it became a ‘Calais Migrant crisis’ in which ‘migrants’ were constructed as a threat to UK security, and then the ‘European Migrant crisis’ an ongoing threat to Europe. Photographs of a drowned child led to a shift to a ‘refugee crisis’ in which ‘refugees’ were presented in a humane and sympathetic way. When terrorist attacks were linked with the ‘crisis’ ‘refugees’ reverted to ‘migrants’. Findings are discussed regarding the impact of categorisation on debates about the inclusion and exclusion of refugees.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date24 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

This article has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology. Full citation details, including DOI, will be uploaded when available.

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  • Refugee crisis
  • Migrant crisis
  • Mediterranean crisis
  • Refugees
  • Migrants
  • Discursive Psychology
  • Discourse Analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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