Informace o publikaci

Exploring the Visuality of Migration in the Context of Public Attitudes

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Rok publikování 2021
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Fakulta sociálních studií

Popis Since the so-called migrant/refugee crisis escalated in 2015, we have witnessed a plethora of visual depictions of migration. From the New York Times’ Pulitzer Award winning photo montage1 to local news outlets all over the world covering those in faraway places hoping to get to Europe, the visuality of migration has exploded in the public sphere. This phenomenon engenders many questions for social scientists, such as: How does the public interpret such visuality and engage in meaning-making processes about migration as a result? In this study, we tackle this question in a country which has not been targeted much by migration studies. The Czech Republic is not a common destination for migrants and refugees, yet the issue figures high on political agendas and among the public. In 2018, it was a major issue in the presidential election, with each candidate striving to show their ability to handle a surge of potential and dangerous newcomers (Jaworsky 2021). Among the public, at the height of the “refugee crisis,” almost 90 percent of Czech respondents perceived refugees as a threat to Europe, while approximately 80 percent identified refugees as a threat specifically to Czechia (Hanzlová 2018). By May of 2018, Czechia had accepted just 12 of the 2,691 refugees mandated by the European Union (EU) quota mechanism established in 2015. The European Court of Justice launched hearings on the cases against the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary (McEnchroe 2019). Fears about the potential “thirteenth immigrant” (Junek 2017) continue to reverberate among the Czech public. We conducted qualitative in-depth interviewing among Czech residents in various settings (urban and rural), with different political views and stances toward migration. We combined face-to-face interviews with online interviewing, asking the research partners about their associations with the words “migration,” “migrant,” “foreigner,” and “refugee,” their awareness about migration and the visibility of migrants, their personal experiences with migration, and their relationship to media regarding migration issues. At the end of the interview, we conducted photo elicitation and asked a few survey questions. In this article, we present the findings from a cultural-sociological analysis of the photo elicitation. We presented our research partners with four migration-related photos that had appeared in Czech media, eliciting their opinions and feelings regarding each, posing questions that would stimulate narrativity. The photos depicted 1) a room with Vietnamese women sewing face masks; 2) the rescue of (presumably) African migrants in the Mediterranean; 3) a scene at the Macedonian border, with migrants at a fence; and 4) a group of male Ukrainian migrants waiting for public transport. We followed the principles of “comprehensive interviewing,” aiming to reach a better understanding of the research partners’ meaning-making processes, offering space for certain level of improvisation (Ferreira 2014). We coded and analyzed the interview data using Atlas.ti software, to reconstruct the “culture structures” (Rambo and Chan 1990) within the system of meaning “Czech attitudes toward migration.” In our analysis of the narratives about the visuals we presented to our research partners, we focus on capturing and reconstructing meaning-making processes, following a “strong program” cultural-sociological, “meaning first” perspective (Alexander and Smith 2003, Alexander and Smith 2018).
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