Publication details

"It’s all going to hell” : How Laypeople Make Sense of Migration-Related News

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Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Description Media discourse is a commanding tool in knowledge production and control, and thus, it is also the space in which power, both symbolic and substantial, is enforced. Although many scholars agree that media have considerable influence on the formation of public attitudes about people who cross borders, little is known about the precise meaning-making mechanisms at play when laypeople are exposed to migration-related news. In this paper, we explore how laypeople in Czechia – a country with almost no immigrants but resonating “anti-immigrant” discourse - make sense of the media portrayals of migration. We rely on the method of critical focus groups to elicit reflections on what migration-related images and narratives they typically see in the national media and how they make sense of them. Through a cultural sociological approach, we identify the dominant cultural repertoire of “migration as invasion” that informs their meaning making and reflection upon migration-related news. We find that media audiences are active producers of meaning, exhibiting considerable reflexivity about media portrayals of migration. Even though they often reproduce the stereotypes perpetuated by media, overall, they are very critical regarding media narratives. Our study examines the three primary reflections on migration-related media coverage among our research participants: (1) periodicity and sensationalism; (2) tendentiousness and misrepresentation; and (3) negativity and selectivity. To conclude, we discuss the implications of our findings for migration studies and the field of media and communication, emphasizing the active role of media audiences in making sense of migration-related news.
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