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‘Economic migrants’, ‘criminal smugglers’ and ‘a burden’: How people seeking asylum were portrayed in political and media discourse during pivotal moments in UK asylum policy and law 1999-2022

Citation: Grey, Holly (2023) ‘Economic migrants’, ‘criminal smugglers’ and ‘a burden’: How people seeking asylum were portrayed in political and media discourse during pivotal moments in UK asylum policy and law 1999-2022. [Discussion or working paper]

WPS No. 68.pdf

Creative Commons: Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

This project is an innovative piece of research which uses a timeline approach to analyse UK asylum policy from 1999-2022. The overall aim of the project is to understand how people seeking asylum have been represented throughout the development of UK asylum policy during this period. The enactment of the Nationality and Borders Act in 2022 inspired this project as it is momentous and has sparked outrage whilst questioning the UK’s commitment to international law. Initially, wider attitudes towards migration and debates in the discourse around refugee protection were also alluded to, in order to provide some context and understanding to increasingly restrictive asylum policy in the UK. Also, to understand the development of UK asylum policy and law from 1999-2022, chapter 1 identifies five pivotal moments throughout this time period. The surrounding political and media discourse during these pivotal moments is then analysed to understand how people seeking asylum have been portrayed. Eleven codes were identified and split into three frameworks, people seeking asylum as: unacceptable, acceptable, and a political matter. Critical discourse analysis is then applied to gain a deeper understanding of each code and the language used. It is concluded that UK asylum policy and law has taken a ‘drip-drip’ approach to reduce the rights of people seeking asylum, with the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act laying the foundations. The portrayal of people seeking asylum in political and media discourse during these pivotal moments mirrors the wider arguments surrounding refugee protection today, with the themes of threat and binaries remaining at the forefront.

Creators: Grey, Holly and
Subjects: Law
Politics
Sociology & Anthropology
Keywords: UK, asylum policy, critical discourse, media, politics
Collections: Refugee Law Initiative
Dates:
  • 8 December 2023 (published)

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