FES | Federación Española de Sociología

XII Congreso de la FES

Compassion and rejection Italian media representation of migrants and audiences’ mediated self-reactions

GT 24 Sociología de la Comunicación y del Lenguaje

Antonia Cava (Università di Messina)
Mariaeugenia Parito (Università di Messina)
Francesco Pira (Università di Messina)


Sesión de comunicaciones orales Franja 5 : Cuestiones de comunicación política
Responsable(s): Giuliano Tardivo (ACMS)
Tipo de sesión: Sesión de comunicaciones orales
Día: sábado, 2 de julio de 2016
Hora: 09:00 a 10:45
Lugar: S.Grados

Public debates on migration oscillate between two conflicting claims: on the one hand, compassion and protection, on the other hand, rejection and fear. Both representations are more focused on emotional reactions (Castells, 2009) than rational reflections (Habermas, 1962, 1992, 1996a,1996b, 1999).

The media hyper-simplification concurs to a social representation of migration that is currently distorting real-life experiences to such an extent that the spectacularization of migrants brings about problems in terms of their negative self-representations. Furthermore, information about migrants reported by media is usually decontextualized (Marletti 1995; Faso 2008; Ghirelli 2005, Maneri 2001; Musarò, Parmiggiani 2014), worsening this state of affairs. Media do not encourage the audience to give evaluations about specific topics, thus framing an agenda of issues to reflect on, so that the presentation of a topic does not cause prejudice or influence a course of action, but favour its contextualization (Shaw 1979). Consequently, the complex phenomenon of migration is concealed in many degrees and ways by the Italian media system.

Starting from this assumption, we argue that these kinds of representation do not allow the audience to understand the complexity of the question, indeed feeding populism and influencing European and national policies to manage migration. In particular, emotional representations conceal the central issue of the potential breaking of fundamental rights claimed in the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights (Ambrosini, 2015).

This paper thus aims to analyse the migration issue within the theoretical framework of the European public sphere (Koopmans, Statham 2010; Risse, 2014) and of the transformation of public sphere in the digital era (Dahlgren, 2005). The two frameworks are intertwined, as the Internet, and social networks in particular, reflect this simplification in the process of understanding what is behind the phenomenon of migration. Recent surveys (e.g. Poll Demos-Coop, 2015; Pew Research Center, 2015) illustrate the contrast between opportunities (e.g. in education) and risks (e.g. in the loosening of individual morality) on the web. As a consequence, the ensuing relational environment is more conceived as a closed circle that excludes those who do not conform and/or belong. We will conclude our discussion by outlining how individuals build their self-representations by following frames, images, posts, messages, while trying to reproduce reality at the same time.


Palabras clave: migration media representation public sphere