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Assessing the production and impact of migration narratives: BRIDGES key findings


Interpretations are what determine responses much more than raw facts. This is true in all societal fields but in migration this is particularly evident. Despite the undisputable relevance of numbers for migratory processes and their consequences, interpretations are more and more related to broader problems such as anxiety about states’ perceived inability to control migration; fears about national identity and core values; or concerns about growing socioeconomic inequalities. Regardless of more evidence-based technocratic accounts, these anxieties often lead to symbolic policy decisions with major political and societal consequences. A paradigmatic example of the importance of narratives on migration is the different response to the European 2015 and 2022 refugee crises. While in 2015 Europe said enough after few months and a little bit more than one million refugees, in 2022 more than 5 million refugees were not even perceived as a crisis and temporary protection was immediately given on a collective basis. The different responses had to do with different interpretations about geographic and cultural proximity but also about whose war (in Syria and Ukraine) was perceived to be.

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