Who deserves compassion? A corpus-assisted critical discourse analysis of the discursive construction of Syrian refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants and migrants in UK newspaper reports published between October 2014 and September 2016

Kelly, Samantha (2020) Who deserves compassion? A corpus-assisted critical discourse analysis of the discursive construction of Syrian refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants and migrants in UK newspaper reports published between October 2014 and September 2016. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

Background: A body of research exists that investigates the representation of migrant populations in news media texts. This study extends the scope of inquiry towards the capacity for the discursive construction of social actors to shape readers’ emotional and cognitive responses of compassion.

Aims: The aims of the study are to both understand how Syrian refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants and migrants (RASIM) are discursively constructed in UK newspaper reports, and establish how these representational strategies function to construct Syrian RASIM as deserving of compassion or otherwise.

Methodology: The study combines the research disciplines of linguistics and the health and social sciences in a corpus assisted critical discourse analysis of UK newspaper reports about the Syrian refugee crisis published between October 2014 and September 2016. Analysis is aided by theories of both compassion and desert.

Findings: RASIM are represented first and foremost as an overwhelming global problem and within a dominant frame of immigration. They are positioned at either extreme of a continuum of threat according to a socio-political debate about immigration, from which their voices are excluded. Their position on the continuum indicates them as either deserving of compassion or otherwise by virtue of their relational threat to other social actors.

Conclusions: The findings of this study demonstrate how the ways in which RASIM are represented can function to align readers with social actors or create distance between them on emotional and cognitive levels. Judgements about whether or not people deserve compassion for their suffering, offer implications for how people subsequently respond both socially and politically. Compassion provokes prosocial actions intended to alleviate suffering, whilst the absence of compassion leads to either inaction or acts of self preservation.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Aubeeluck, Aimee
Hunt, Daniel
Crawford, Paul
Keywords: Compassion; Syrian asylum seekers; Syrian refugees; Critical discourse analysis
Subjects: H Social sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Item ID: 60949
Depositing User: Kelly, Samantha
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2020 09:14
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2020 09:14
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/60949

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