Consenting to Orientalism when Covering Migration: How the British Media Dehumanises Migrants in the Context of the Syrian Civil War

Nina Arif


The British vote to leave Europe rests largely upon fear of migrants. British media can be shown to have contributed to this by dehumanising migrants through news coverage. Discourse analysis of stories during the ‘European migrant crisis’ (2015) will show how dehumanisation occurs via Orientalist discourses (Said, 1979), presenting migrants as a threat to security, Western values and economically burdensome. Theories regarding news production and elite agency will be applied to understand the media’s role in manufacturing consent (Chomsky, 1994) thus legitimising policies. This paper focusses upon online news coverage surrounding an attack at Westminster, which became amalgamated with migration. Since media discourses must be analysed to understand the devices used, philosophical and journalistic insights will be applied to answer the questions: what methods are used to dehumanise migrants? What mechanisms operate behind this? What is the result? Suggestions for supporting university students in counteracting media influence will be made.

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