A Longitudinal Comparison of the Representation of Migrants and the EU in a Corpus of British and Romanian Newspaper Articles Published between 2006 and 2018

  • Lucia Mihaela Iorga

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis adds to the growing body of media discourse studies on the representation of migrants and the European Union in European countries. Through a Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 2013), this thesis explores the conceptualisation of migrants and the European Union in the Romanian versus the British press, in a corpus of newspaper articles published between 1st January 2006 and 31st December 2018.
The data analysis revealed that the main groups of migrants the press in both landscapes focused on are asylum seekers and refugees, Muslims, non-Roma and Roma Romanian immigrants. Through conceptual metaphors (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980), these migrants were likened to objects, ships, illegal goods, waves, flows, liquids, invaders, enemies and threats. Diachronically, the combination of keywords, collocation and concordance analyses shows that these conceptualisations, which remained largely unchanged over time, occurred in both datasets within the time period under analysis, namely throughout Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accessions to the European Union between 2006 and 2007, the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the European refugee crisis in the mid- 2010s and the Brexit referendum and its aftermath, covering the years 2016 to 2018. The key themes identified in this thesis are the quantification and the ‘otherisation’ (Holliday, 2011) of migrants, as well as their portrayal as economic burdens or invaders in their destination countries. Over time, these conceptualisations lead to the strengthening of the dichotomy between ‘us’, the host community and ‘them’, the migrants. In addition to the diachronic exploration of migrant representations, this thesis also compares these portrayals in the Romanian versus the British corpus.
With regard to the European Union, this thesis argues that both countries’ memberships have followed different trajectories than those of other member states, ever since their accession to the European Union bloc. Moreover, the EU’s conceptualisation has been contrasting in Romania versus in Britain, as Romania’s satisfaction with its EU membership has been influenced by the same reasons which caused Britain’s discontent with the EU bloc, namely the countries’ contributions to the EU budget, as well as EU citizens’ freedom of movement.
This project contributes to existing research by diachronically comparing the conceptualisations of migrants and the European Union in Romania, a country characterised by emigration, versus the United Kingdom, a country characterised by immigration. In doing so, this thesis also explores the Romanian media landscape, a historically understudied area of research, in comparison with its British counterpart.
Date of Award17 Jul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorAlessia Tranchese (Supervisor), Helen Ringrow (Supervisor) & Isabela Fairclough (Supervisor)

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