Publication details

Migrants, foreigners, refugees? Boundary work and categorization in the articulation of attitudes towards migration

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Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Description While considerable research on migration highlights the perspectives of newcomers, this contribution aims to shed light on the perspectives of the receiving population. We explore attitudes towards migration in Czechia, a country with low levels of immigration but highly negative perceptions of newcomers. These sentiments crystallized during the 2015 “refugee crisis” in heated public and political debates, and the country accepted only 12 refugees from the 2,691 required by the EU Relocation Scheme. To explore the attitudes towards migration among the Czech public, we draw upon the concepts of symbolic boundaries and boundary work that allow us to approach attitudes as dynamic meaning-making processes embedded in cultural repertoires. We will present the preliminary findings of our ongoing research project based on qualitative semi-structured interviews. This method aims to stimulate narrative responses describing interviewees’ notions concerning people on the move and lead to better understanding how they operate with different categories, such as migrants, foreigners, and refugees, when they talk about migration. Although in practice these terms have overlapping meanings, our findings show that the boundaries between “us” and “them” are drawn differently for each category. While “foreigners” are perceived rather neutrally, “migrants” and “refugees” are defined as “others” representing a potential threat. We also tackle the methodological question of how to address people on the move in research on migration-related attitudes.
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