Framing the Refugee Crisis

Ellen Edman

Student thesis: Master thesis


With a history of accepting refugees and asylum seekers, Sweden accepted most applicants per capita in the European Union in 2014; however, in 2015 the government withdrew the welcoming policy in favour of border controls. This thesis takes a social constructivist perspective in answering the research question ‘How has the conceptualisation of the refugee regime changed in Swedish media during the course of the refugee crisis?’ Based on a narrative analysis of Swedish media coverage of the refugee crisis from 2014 and 2015, compared to a narrative analysis of the UNHCR Global Trends reports from 2014 and 2015, this paper examines the development of national narratives in relation to the refugee regime narratives. The analytical starting point for the analysis is the ideational factors, namely the commonly shared beliefs about the refugee crisis and the refugee regime. It is evident from the analysis that the development of different narratives regarding the same phenomenon reveals the different belief systems underlying the refugee crisis. By outlining the different frames in which these narratives operate, it is clear how the national implementation of the refugee regime becomes increasingly complex from 2014 to 2015, as the Swedish frames conceptualise the refugee crisis as gradually more political, as well as securitised, and consequently moves further away from the logics of the humanitarian frames utilised by UNHCR, which conceptualise the refugee crisis as a humanitarian crisis.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages69
SupervisorsMorten Ougaard