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

Simon Goodman, Ala Sirriyeh, Simon McMahon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    90 Citations (Scopus)
    533 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.


    • 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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