An analysis of the nature and use of pro-migrant representations in an anti-deportation campaign

Caoimhe Ryan*, Stephen Reicher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Opposition to immigration and the rejection of migrants have long been of concern to psychologists. While much is known about negative representations of migrants in politics and the media, far less is known about positive representations of migrants and immigration. In this article, we provide an examination of social representations promoting promigrant action in the context of a community campaign opposing the deportation of a woman and her young daughter. The woman, who had come to the United Kingdom from Malawi seven years prior had lost permission to remain following changes to personal circumstances and was facing deportation. Our analysis explores the ways in which the campaign’s mobilization arguments respond to and engage with antimigrant representations. It identifies the importance of categorical representations concerning the nature, norms, and interests of the local community, of the two migrants under threat of deportation, and of those seeking to deport them. Contrary to antimigrant representations, the migrants at the center of the campaign were presented as ingroup members and their potential deportation as a violation of ingroup norms and ingroup interests. Finally, we also identify points of ambivalence in the campaign’s mobilization strategy where arguments reject the ascription but not the nature of negative representations of migrants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-598
Number of pages16
JournalPolitical Psychology
Volume40
Issue number3
Early online date19 Oct 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Keywords

  • immigration
  • mobilization
  • prosocial behavior
  • social identity
  • social representation

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