Challenging the Negative Discourse on Refugees; A Political Discourse Analysis of Pro-Refugee Parties in the Netherlands.
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Given prevailing anti-refugee sentiments in Europe, it is worthwhile to look into attitudes which counter this trend. In this research, a discourse analysis will take place looking at the party programs, social media output and positions in parliamentary debates of pro-refugee parties in the Netherlands. By combining these different spheres in which political discourse is enacted in the 21st century, I come to a comprehensive analysis of the current state of affairs of the pro-refugee debate in the Netherlands. The following question is paramount in this research: “In what way do political pro-refugee counter-discourses attempt to oppose anti-refugee discourse, and what, if anything, can they achieve?” The analytical concepts of the interpretative repertoire, discursive strategy and counter-framing will serve as guidelines for answering this question. Following from the analysis, the legal framework, human dignity, international solidarity and cooperation, the global unequal distribution of resources, and inclusive nationalism are observed as prominent interpretative repertoires within the pro-refugee discourse. In addition, compassion, counter-framing, legitimacy of information and firm language are observed as discursive strategies. It is through these interpretative repertoires and discursive strategies that the prevailing anti-refugee discourse is challenged. As to its success, the pro-refugee discourse successfully engages with the discursive hegemonic struggle through the frequent use of social media, the proposal of plenty political motions, the strategy of counter-framing, reference to the legal framework and the linkage to relevant and trustworthy sources. Nevertheless, continuous reference to the vague concept of a common idea of humanity, the emphasis of refugee children, quantification and the lack of synergy between interpretative repertoires and discursive strategies stand in the way from fully successfully countering the prevailing anti-refugee discourse.