Narrative Publications


Public Opinion toward Immigration, Refugees and Identity in Europe, A Closer Look at What Europeans Think and How Immigration Debates Have Become So Relevant (2019)

Recent dramatic changes in Europe’s political landscape are closely related to an increase in support for parties that take a strong stance against immigration. The purpose of this article is to provide a nuanced picture of public opinion on the issue of immigration, and specifically refugees, provide some background on why these issues are important, and examine how the issue has been instrumentalized by authoritarian populists in Europe to mobilize the public in their support.


Public Opinion toward Immigration, Refugees and Identity in Europe, A Closer Look at What Europeans Think....pdf

Media Framing Dynamics of the 'European Refugee Crisis': A comparative Topic Modelling Approach (2019)


The complexity and duration of the so-called ‘European refugee crisis’ created a climate of uncertainty, which left ample room for mass media to shape citizens’ understanding of what the arrival of these refugees meant for their respective country. This study analyses the national media discourses in Hungary, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Spain for this time period. Applying Latent Dirichlet Allocation topic modelling in five languages and based on N¼130,042 articles from 24 news outlets, we reveal country-specific media frames to track the overall course of the refugee debate and to uncover dynamics and shifts in discourses. While results show similarities across countries, due to media coverage responding to real-world developments, there are differences in media framing as well. Possible sources of these differences such as countries’ geographic location or status as receiving country are discussed.

Media Framing Dynamics of the 'European Refugee Crisis', A comparative Topic Modelling Approach.pdf

Journalism In The Age of Populism and Polarisation: Insights from the Migration Debate in Italy (June 2019)


Across the world – from the US to the UK, from Europe to South Asia and Latin America – politics and media are stuck in a spiral that incentivizes divisive rhetoric, hyper-partisanship and disinformation. The main beneficiaries of this spiral are a generation of politicians, often labeled ‘populist.’ What connects them is not their policies, but their ability to capture attention. They use intentionally inflammatory language and controversial ideas in order to focus attention on themselves and to divide electorates into crude wars of ‘us’ versus ‘them’. Sometimes they are supported by online squadrons of social media militias, as well as intensely biased publications with low editorial standards, that help push their messages. Traditional, ‘quality’ media that aspire to accuracy and balance find themselves caught in a catch-22: a failure to report on these politicians will result in accusations of censorship, but challenging them risks accusations of ‘fake news’ by the politicians themselves.


Journalism In The Age of Populism and Polarisation, Insights from the Migration Debate in Italy.pdf

European Public Opinion and Migration: Achieving Common Progressive Narratives (2019)


Attitudes towards migrants are difficult to grasp – but they are less divided than populists would have us believe. Nevertheless, an increasing number of Europeans feel uneasy about people who escape poverty and violence in search of a decent and safe life far away from their home. This European uneasiness is expressed in fears that range from unfair competition in the labour market and reduced access to social services in the host countries to the perceived threat posed by migrants to national identities, ethnic homogeneity and security. The aim of this book is to try and shed light on the paradox that the disadvantaged and marginalised represent an imminent threat to our societies. It also aims to explain the origin of a political short circuit that is affecting public opinion right across Europe and impacting on electoral results, political dynamics and immigration policies in many EU member states. This anti-migrant backlash is altering – sometimes dramatically – the balance of power between mainstream parties and so-called populist and extremist ones. It is even changing the face and soul of the European Union.


European Public Opinion and Migration, Achieving Common Progressive Narratives.pdf

Common home - Migration and development in Europe and beyond (November 2019)

Executive summary

Over the last few years, migration has deeply polarised public debate in Europe. While the record number of
migrant arrivals has considerably dropped since 2017, the ensuing political and social crisis in Europe remains today. It is in this climate, fraught with tensions and mistrust, that Caritas Europa launched a renewed reflection on the complex interconnections between migration and development, both in Europe and overseas, in order to promote a more balanced debate.

As described in Chapter 1, this publication is based on the findings, testimonies and good practices of 11 Common Home studies,1 covering Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany (Bavaria), Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden, and on the analysis of European and international statistical databases and the review of secondary literature. Caritas approaches migration and development from two angles. On the one hand, it analyses the extent to which migration itself does and may contribute to sustainable development in countries of origin and destination. On the other hand, it examines the extent to which European and Member State policies and practices, both internally and externally, contribute to the integral human development of people and the sustainable development of countries in Europe and beyond. A critical assessment of what has been done and what should be done in these domains in order to create structures and policies that foster integral human development and that support the development potential of migration are also presented in this publication.

As detailed in Chapter 1, Caritas uses a broad understanding of migration, inclusive of all those who are refugees and applicants for international protection as well as migrant workers and members of their families. As regards development, Caritas views it as the long-term process of building up community and household social and economic capacities in a sustainable manner, in order to eradicate poverty and vulnerability, and to promote social justice. Key to Caritas’ vision is the concept of integral human development, which places the human person at the centre of the development process. Integral human development is defined as an all-embracing approach that takes into consideration the well-being of the person and of all people in seven different dimensions: 1) social, 2) work, 3) ecological, 4) political, 5) economic, 6) cultural, and 7) spiritual.

In Caritas’ view, migration remains linked to poverty inasmuch as poverty is understood as not only economic poverty, but also encompasses exclusion or the lack of opportunities to participate in society or to access decent work, good governance, education and healthcare, freedom of expression and participation, or the ability to avoid the consequences of climate change. Caritas thus supports the view that there is no proven correlation between poverty eradication and reduction of migration, and further contends that although some of the drivers of migration need to be addressed to support the long-term development of the countries, poverty reduction is in itself not a migration-reducing strategy. For Caritas, the solution therefore is to facilitate integral human development. Both people who migrate and those who remain - whether in country of origin or in country of residence - have the right to find wherever they call home the economic, political, environmental and social conditions to live in dignity and to achieve a full life. Hence, rather than focus on stopping human mobility, governments should prioritise development policies that create environments, enabling people to achieve their full potential, their life project, their integral human development.

Common home, Migration and development in Europe and beyond.pdf

Public attitudes on migration: rethinking how people perceive migration - An analysis of existing opinion polls in the Euro-Mediterranean region

Executive summary

The International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) commissioned the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) of the European University Institute to provide this report in early 2018, based on the work of the MPC’s Observatory of Public Attitudes to Migration (OPAM). This built on the insight and recommendations of the first EuroMed Migration Communications Study—‘How does the media on both sides of the Mediterranean report on migration?' This second study aims to:
• Offer a better understanding of public attitudes to migration in 17 selected countries on both sides of the Mediterranean;
• Attempt to explain why attitudes to migration are what they are — with an emphasis on the role of media. The report both summarises previous findings and provides new analyses;
• Provide recommendations on how to communicate on migration in a non-polarising manner.


Public attitudes on migration study.pdf

What are Europeans’ views on integration of immigrants?


This paper provides an in-depth description of public opinion about immigrants’ integration in European countries, as captured in the 2017 Special Eurobarometer on this topic. It highlights a near consensus among European respondents on the meaning of integration, but more variation across countries regarding policy options to support integration. It also shows that positive opinions about immigration are often associated with a favourable public perception of integration. Looking at the individual correlates of opinions about immigration and integration, this paper finds that actual knowledge about the magnitude of immigration is positively correlated with attitudes to immigration but not integration. In contrast, more interactions with immigrants are associated with more positive views on integration but not necessarily on immigration.

What are Europeans' views on integration of immigrants.pdf

How the world views migration

Executive Summary

How the World Views Migration provides, for the first time, an insight into public attitudes towards immigration worldwide. The findings presented here – based on interviews with over 183,000 adults across more than 140 countries between 2012 and 2014 – represent the first steps towards understanding the lenses through which people view immigration at a global level.

Adults surveyed in Gallup’s World Poll were asked two questions about immigration: 1) In your view, should immigration in this country be kept at its present level, increased or decreased? 2) Do you think immigrants mostly take jobs that citizens in this country do not want (e.g. low-paying or not prestigious jobs), or mostly take jobs that citizens in this country want?

Foremost among the report’s findings is that in every major region of the world – with the important exception of Europe – people are more likely to want immigration levels in their countries to either stay at the present level or to increase, rather than to decrease. This contrasts with the negative perceptions of migration often portrayed in the media in certain regions of the world.

European residents appear to be, on average, the most negative globally towards immigration, with the majority believing immigration levels should be decreased. However, there is a sharp divergence in opinions among residents in Northern and Southern Europe. The majority of adults in Northern European countries – except for those in the United Kingdom – would like immigration levels to either stay the same or increase, while most residents in Southern European countries would prefer to have lower levels of immigration to their countries. More broadly, residents in less than half of the 40 countries in the larger European region are more likely to favour decreased immigration levels than the same or higher levels.

Negative and positive opinions towards immigration exist in every region and every country; however  certain sociodemographic characteristics are more consistently associated with favourable or opposing attitudes to immigration. The study finds that adults with a university degree are typically more likely than those with lower levels of education to want to see immigration kept at its present level or increased in their countries. Similarly, younger people generally tend to be more positive towards immigration. In contrast, negative attitudes in relation to immigration levels are more likely found among those who are unemployed than those who are employed.

People’s views about their personal and their countries’ economic situations may be the strongest predictors of their views of immigration. Those who perceive economic situations as poor or worsening are more likely to favour lower immigration levels into their countries. The reverse is also true: those who perceive their individual or their countries’ economic situations as good or improving are more likely to want to see higher levels of immigration.

Although people’s outlooks on their national economy, personal standard of living and household income are strong indicators of their views of immigration levels in their countries, these do not appear to be such strong predictors of people’s opinions about competition between national workers and immigrants in their countries’ labour markets. Public opinion as to whether migrants compete with national workers for jobs is, however, generally aligned with opinion about immigration levels: among the countries surveyed, on average, residents who do not see migrants as wanting the jobs citizens in their countries want tend to be more open to immigration in their countries.

How the world views migration.pdf

Report by the Migration Council: Understanding Migration - Managing Migration



Acceptance by the population is the prerequisite for a successful national migration policy. This democratic approach to migration has determined the agenda of the Migration Council from the beginning of its activity. The developments in the field of migration at national, European and international level have been found to be of crucial importance for the future of Austria. It is therefore not surprising that the further development of the national migration strategy was incorporated into the current programme of work of the Federal Government. In April 2014 – at a time when the refugee crisis had not yet reached a level of visibility that would have caught the public’s attention – Johanna Mikl-Leitner, then Minister of the Interior, established the “Migration Council for Austria” as an independent body not bound by instructions. The mandate given to the Council was to elaborate substantive foundations for a national migration strategy. As a first step, the Migration Council for Austria defined the target that was to serve as the basis and the focal point of its entire work: Austria should remain a secure and stable state in which people can live in prosperity.

This objective clearly reflects the intention of the Migration Council for Austria: Austrian migration policy has to focus clearly on Austria’s interests, though not without safeguarding the interests of the regions of origin. In the elaboration of forward-looking recommendations, the Council was confronted with the task of summarising the positions in favour and against migration in a meaningful way and developing a reasonable approach well suited to mediate between conflicting interests. On the one hand, migration contributes substantially to the preservation of security, stability and prosperity. If the innovative strength of industry and research is to be maintained and if the demand for skilled labour in Austria is to be adequately met, incentives have to be created for quality-based and qualification oriented migration. With this goal in mind, the Migration Council has devised a range of possible strategic approaches. On the other hand, it must be recognised that migration represents a burden for the systems of the state and can even present
a risk for security, stability and prosperity. The Migration Council has drafted recommendations, especially targeting the political system, the media, public security and state-run institutions, showing how to shoulder the burden and counteract the risks.

In a time of global challenges and global responsibility, these seemingly conflicting positions for and against migration represent an inseparable complementarity. To preserve the economic strength of the democratic state under the rule of law and to safeguard its resilience in the event of a crisis, qualification-oriented migration, as a valuable input factor for the economy, has to be increased. It takes a strong and stable political structure to assume global responsibility and provide humanitarian assistance for those most in need of protection and to do so on a long-term basis.

This concluding report is structured as follows: The introduction and the summary of the study on “Future Migration Scenarios for 2030” by the Centre for Future Studies of the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, which the Migration Council used as a basis for the discussion of its recommendations, is followed by a presentation of facts. These illustrate the contribution that migration can and should make to the economy, the labour market, education and research, and – especially in view of demographic developments – to health care and the social sector. The subsequent section of the report describes the conditions under which political and state-run institutions operate and highlights the need for migration to be governed by a clear regulatory regime, which also needs to be implemented in practice. Next, the interests of the regions of origin and possible perspectives for a migration policy aimed at strengthening these regions in a sustainable way are outlined. Finally, on the basis of these findings, conclusions are drawn regarding the design of a future migration system.

From the very beginning, the Migration Council attempted to take a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach, and set itself the goal of taking all forms of migration – legal and irregular migration as well as asylum – adequately into account. The refugee crisis, which hit Europe towards the end of 2014 and reached a peak in the autumn of 2015, was included in the considerations of the Council, whose work had started long before that time. However, it was the Council’s conscious decision not to focus primarily on the refugee crisis. Its mandate was not to present an asylum report that marginally covers other forms of migration as well, but to elaborate a comprehensive migration report.

Nor was the Migration Council called upon to comment on current affairs or to get involved in such discussions. Based on the status quo, it was expected to issue well-founded recommendations with a special focus on the long-term perspective – particularly with regard to the country’s responsibility vis-à-vis the regions of origin. Although long-term targets tend to be unpopular, as they do not promise instant success that can be achieved overnight, taking a long-term view of migration is the only way to set the course for achieving the long-term target: preserving Austria as a secure and stable state where people can live in prosperity.

The mandate of the Migration Council for Austria ends with the presentation of this concluding report to Wolfgang Sobotka, the Federal Minister of the Interior. The authors hope that the Ministry of the Interior will develop a national migration strategy for the Federal Government on the basis of the recommendations of this report. As far as I
am concerned, the productive work of the Migration Council in recent years has shown that an institutionalised body of experts, set up to advise the Federal Minister of the Interior on migration issues, is a meaningful option for the future.

Report of the Migration Council.pdf

Shifting Narratives on people on the move: a new approach

The international community has widely acknowledged the dominate presence, damaging impact and the need to dramatically change negative narratives about people on the move. Many attempts to shape or improve narratives regarding social issues focus primarily on data and statistics (the numbers of displaced people, the benefits they provide to the economies, etc.). Our approach is different: we will advance a new based on connecting to closely held values. Our proposal introduces a new method to craft a positive image of migrants, refugees and their families: creating narratives based on the values of the stakeholders we want to engage, and inspired by the rule of law, democracy, human rights and human dignity.

We propose applying the Public Will Building model which is a strategic communication approach that focus on engaging people—based on their closely held personal values. The end goal is change that is sustainable because it is owned by the very people who demanded it. Public will building advances values-based narratives by utilizing the full range of engagement channels, from grassroots outreach to mass, social and direct media tools. The combination of connecting tools through values and using multiple engagement platforms leads to a deeper public understanding and ownership of social change. By creating lasting shifts in community expectations that shape the way people think and act—and in what way they demand of the systems and policies that affect their lives and communities—new social norms are realized.

Shifting Narratives on People on the Move, Proposal from Narratives Group of the Migration Laboratory, 2018.pdf