2021 IMISCOE Spring Conference - Messaging Migration and Mobility
Call for Papers
Migration and mobility, as well as related issues such as inclusion, remain high on global policy agendas. Recent political shifts have both contributed to and been impacted by intensifying negative public attitudes towards minorities, particularly migrants and asylum-seekers. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic and responses to it such as lockdowns and the introduction of border controls have brought mobility and immobility into sharp relief, while international attention to racism and its impacts—precipitated by protests related to the Black Lives Matter movement—has both demanded attention to different forms of injustice and reinvigorated discussions about how to address them.
In policy and public domains, communication about mobility—its scale, composition, dynamics, impacts, and causes—greatly matters. Public debates about migration are both complex phenomena as well as related to dynamics in migration policymaking. Moreover, the nature of communication in and about global mobilities has been dramatically changing due to shifts in technologies, platforms, racial inequalities and migrants’ own behaviours. These observations are relevant beyond countries and regions typically described as destinations for migrants, speaking to issues arising in sending and transit countries worldwide.
But there remain considerable challenges in empirically describing and disentangling these relationships, theorising their causes, and drawing out their implications for policymaking, social movements, and journalism practice. First, how and through which means do public narratives and attitudes on migration and mobility impact other kinds of debates happening in media, policy, or civil society? Despite many studies demonstrating how message content influences subsequent attitudes, less attention has been placed on the ways that messages and perceptions relate across domains. What is more, evidence on messages’ effectiveness is often limited by a lack of distinction among migrant and minority groups themselves—despite the importance of this for policymaking.
Second, what kinds of political, commercial, social, organisational or cultural factors matter for message building—particularly in attracting, persuading, and maintaining audiences? Research in the frame- and agenda-building traditions emphasises studying how messages emerge and evolve. Yet it is less clear how this happens with respect to migration, inclusion, and related issues. There is also a need to recognise how migrants and minority groups contribute to, challenge, and reshape both messages’ content and delivery.
Finally, how are new platforms, data collection methods, and technologies changing the ways that migrants, citizens, or receiving communities and states experience and respond to mobility, and with what ethical and practical implications? Information can be crucial for migrants’ decisions, and technologies shape refugees’ journeys. But as these media and technologies rapidly change, it is important to take stock of these shifts by placing them alongside other more established ways of accessing and sharing messages—either empirically through multi-modal studies or by tracing their development historically.