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The ‘Refugee Crisis’ On Facebook

Andén, Karin LU (2016) SIMV07 20161
Graduate School
Department of Political Science
Education
Abstract
This is an ethnographic study on how refugees and policies on asylum and immigration was debated on Facebook in Sweden during the so called ‘refugee crisis’. This study analysed the relation between the Facebook debate, and the way news media framed the ‘refugee crisis’ during three months in which Swedish asylum policy changed drastically: September 2015, November 2015 and January 2016. In September, the receiving of asylum seekers was primarily described as something positive in news media. Refugees were represented as suffering and in need of help. At this time, the engagement for refugees was very strong on Facebook, and a large number of users interacted with posts that expressed support to refugees and to a generous asylum policy.... (More)
This is an ethnographic study on how refugees and policies on asylum and immigration was debated on Facebook in Sweden during the so called ‘refugee crisis’. This study analysed the relation between the Facebook debate, and the way news media framed the ‘refugee crisis’ during three months in which Swedish asylum policy changed drastically: September 2015, November 2015 and January 2016. In September, the receiving of asylum seekers was primarily described as something positive in news media. Refugees were represented as suffering and in need of help. At this time, the engagement for refugees was very strong on Facebook, and a large number of users interacted with posts that expressed support to refugees and to a generous asylum policy. Among those arguing for a restrictive asylum policy, the most viral posts did also describe a will to help refugees in September. In November, receiving asylum seekers was primarily described as something negative in news media: since a large number of asylum seekers could harm Sweden’s system and that asylum seekers could be potential a security threat. Opinion leaders arguing for a restrictive asylum policy had a more aggressive rhetoric when news media to a larger degree described asylum seekers as a problem. Among opinions leaders arguing for a generous asylum policy, the level of user engagement decreased in November and January. During all three months there was a strong polarisation on the Facebook pages examined in this study and the ‘refugee crisis’ was perceived in two very different ways. Those arguing for a generous asylum policy meant that human beings were suffering and in need of help and those who argued for a restrictive asylum policy argued that immigration was expensive and that immigrants could pose a threat to Swedish citizens. There were also many contemptuous comments on foreigners and foreign cultures among people who were opposed to receiving refugees. Especially in September, there were many discussions between Facebook users with different opinions on Swedish asylum policy. However, deliberate discussions were rare between opponents, and most users seemed to prefer talking to those who shared their own opinion. In total the 165 Facebook posts analysed in this study received close to one million ‘likes’, indicating that Facebook is an important arena for political communication in Sweden. (Less)
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author
Andén, Karin LU
supervisor
organization
course
SIMV07 20161
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Political Communication, Social Network Sites, Facebook, Asylum Policy, Framing
language
English
id
8890447
date added to LUP
2016-09-29 15:03:24
date last changed
2016-09-29 15:03:24
@misc{8890447,
  abstract     = {This is an ethnographic study on how refugees and policies on asylum and immigration was debated on Facebook in Sweden during the so called ‘refugee crisis’. This study analysed the relation between the Facebook debate, and the way news media framed the ‘refugee crisis’ during three months in which Swedish asylum policy changed drastically: September 2015, November 2015 and January 2016. In September, the receiving of asylum seekers was primarily described as something positive in news media. Refugees were represented as suffering and in need of help. At this time, the engagement for refugees was very strong on Facebook, and a large number of users interacted with posts that expressed support to refugees and to a generous asylum policy. Among those arguing for a restrictive asylum policy, the most viral posts did also describe a will to help refugees in September. In November, receiving asylum seekers was primarily described as something negative in news media: since a large number of asylum seekers could harm Sweden’s system and that asylum seekers could be potential a security threat. Opinion leaders arguing for a restrictive asylum policy had a more aggressive rhetoric when news media to a larger degree described asylum seekers as a problem. Among opinions leaders arguing for a generous asylum policy, the level of user engagement decreased in November and January. During all three months there was a strong polarisation on the Facebook pages examined in this study and the ‘refugee crisis’ was perceived in two very different ways. Those arguing for a generous asylum policy meant that human beings were suffering and in need of help and those who argued for a restrictive asylum policy argued that immigration was expensive and that immigrants could pose a threat to Swedish citizens. There were also many contemptuous comments on foreigners and foreign cultures among people who were opposed to receiving refugees. Especially in September, there were many discussions between Facebook users with different opinions on Swedish asylum policy. However, deliberate discussions were rare between opponents, and most users seemed to prefer talking to those who shared their own opinion. In total the 165 Facebook posts analysed in this study received close to one million ‘likes’, indicating that Facebook is an important arena for political communication in Sweden.},
  author       = {Andén, Karin},
  keyword      = {Political Communication,Social Network Sites,Facebook,Asylum Policy,Framing},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The ‘Refugee Crisis’ On Facebook},
  year         = {2016},
}