The way that politics, institutions, organisations and the media debate immigration is influenced by historical development and culture specific dispositions, and also by related discourses such as national identity and demographic development. These discourses are influenced by resourceful discourse participants and they generate a socially shared body of ‘knowledge’ about, who is affected (negatively or positively) by immigration and what should be done about it. Discourses thereby influence citizens’ perceptions of social reality. It is important to understand what influences the develpment of such discourses in order to understand ways in which migration is framed as a ‘challenge’ or ‘problem’, and what can(not) be said or done about it. Comparative analyses of migration discourses across different societies and languages will foster a deeper understanding of factors that determine discourses by highlighting the cultural and social ‘knowledge’ that becomes embedded in discourses and by pointing out the resulting differences of such discourses across societies. This has important implications for translation of discourses or discourse key words (DKW) in European public spheres and civic education. Discursively established ways of talking e.g. about migration are often taken for granted. Highlighting differences between discourses across societies and languages may increase awareness not only about others, but also of the specifics of the own histories and approaches to debating migration. Without suggesting that ‘discourse’ as a phenomenon could be boiled down to the level of words only, DKW will be understood as ‘discourse in a nutshell’: DKW – such as “asylum seekers”, “fortress Europe” – emerge, become prominent and decline in prominence in discursive contexts. They are semantically complex, as they often pertain to issues that feature a variety of aspects and a range of evaluations, such as “multicultural society”. They occur as part of a set of DKWs that accommodates different perspectives, such as “illegal” vs. “illegalised” immigrants. DKW must be studied in discourse context, but they are phenomenologically distinct enough to realistically accommodate the complexities involved in comparative discourse analyses.

 

The aim of Documenting Key Words in European Migration Discourses is to bring together migration discourse researchers with a background in different languages and discourse communities (UK, France, Germany, Italy), corpus linguists and cognitive linguists in order to share experience, discuss concepts and agree on a methodology for comparative analyses of European migration DKWs. This is a necessary first step for the overall aim to produce a freely accessible online dictionary of European migration DKWs. At the networking stage, conceptual issues such as a shared understanding of the concept of DKWs need to be exchanged, as well as results from/experiences with research into migration discourse(s). Practical issues like the need of comparable, sizeable textcorpora need to be discussed and concrete steps for corpus building need to be agreed. Participants should arrive at a shared understanding of the desirability and feasibility of quantitative and/or qualitative methods of analysis for such a project, to result in a preliminary checklist of analytical steps. Last but not least, participants will have to discuss how the results of such a comparative analysis could be presented in form of a Discourse Key Word Dictionary, with the aim to produce a template discourse dictionary structure suitable to represent the comparative scope of the project, and to reflect the added value of the comparative approach. Impact partners will be invited already at the networking stage to create awareness from the start of the potential value of comparative discourse (key word) analysis for European civic education and critical language awareness of discourse participants.

 

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