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The image of refugees in Swedish media and opinion, 2015-2016

In the autumn 2015, the issue of refugees approaching European borders became an acute concern for all European countries. As a matter of fact, it had been a central issue for a long time, but through the intensive war in Syria and Iraq, in combination with refugees coming also from countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea and Somalia, it grew in proportions.

The wars, and other difficulties, had led to millions of refugees arriving in the neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Large groups had also tried to reach Europe, either through Turkey or by boat across the Mediterranean to Greece and Italy. According to the International Migration Organization (IOM), 600,000 people attempted to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe during the first nine months of 2015. Over 3,000 of them drowned (www.ion.int).

At the beginning of September 2015, a photo of 4-year-old Alan Kurdi, whose dead body was washed upon the beach in Turkish Bodrum, had a massive media spread in many countries, including Sweden. The picture and story influenced the public discourse of the refugee situation. Other incidents, also with impact on the public debates, included groups of refugees attempting to reach the Austrian border by walking along the Hungarian highways, the construction of barbed wire barriers along the Hungarian border against Croatia, and statements by Chancellor Angela Merkel about major German refugee commitments.

The aim of this project is to conduct an analysis of the media image and public opinion in Sweden during this period, when the issue of refugees dominated the agendas of both media and politics. The media image is investigated through a quantitative content analysis of major news media in the fall of 2015 and spring of 2016, and the public opinion is investigated through a survey to a web panel during the same periods of time.

Participants in the project are

Tomas Odén, Assistant Professor (Project Manager)

Marina Ghersetti, Assistant Professor

The project is funded by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, MSB.

Page Manager: Mats Ekström|Last update: 11/27/2018

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