Contesting European Solidarity during the ‘Refugee Crisis’: A Comparative Investigation of Media Claims in Denmark, Germany, Greece and Italy

Verena K. Brändle, Olga Eisele, Hans-Jörg Trenz

The migration crisis of 2015 and 2016 was a litmus test for EU solidarity, when increasing numbers of newly arriving refugees fueled its public contestation. Our overall assumption is that the ‘refugee crisis’ contributed to a solidarity gap between inclusive liberal-cosmopolitan and exclusive communitarian attitudes in the EU. We investigate this assumption by contrasting positions regarding solidarity with refugees among state and societal actors. We base our analysis on a fresh dataset of solidarity claims in the largest print newspapers in Denmark, Germany, Greece and Italy for the period of August 2015 – April 2016 coded in the TransSOL project. These four countries were affected differently by the ‘crisis’ and differently attractive for refugees and asylum-seekers as arrival, destination or transit countries. Results suggest a solidarity gap between state actors and societal actors and a higher degree of solidarity contestation in countries with state actors strongly promoting exclusive notions of solidarity. Results speak to the discussion about media representations of migration as well as the contestation of solidarity as a fundamental value.

Department of Communication
External organisation(s)
University of Copenhagen
Mass Communication and Society
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
508020 Political communication
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