Refugee integration in the European Union member states: Coming home?

Rūta Sutkutė
Vytauto Didžiojo universitetas
Kauno kolegija
El. paštas: ruta.sutkute@stud.vdu.lt

This presentation examines the role of social media in shaping the value orientation of individuals and constructing negative images of social groups in the context of social media activism. Consequently, such public initiatives as “Refugees Welcome!” and “Refugees Not Welcome!” are trying to challenge and influence governmental policy, to mobilize people in order to promote the integration of refugees, or vice versa to fight against their “new arrivals” and their status in the host society. Social campaign “Refugees Welcome!” was created in September, 2015 therefore it is difficult to assess the role of the movement for government policy and society so far but it is widely recognized that this movement has already achieved certain results in persuading governments to accept more refugees and transfer them to refugee integration centres.
The object of the presentation – integration of refugees in the context of the humanitarian crisis in Europe. The main purpose – to figure out social media’s role as a mediator in shaping the value orientation of individuals and constructing negative images of social groups in the context of social media activism in different virtual environments through “Facebook” and “Twitter” case studies. In order to achieve this purpose the following tasks were created: to analyze social media activism processes in modern society; to introduce how different representations of refugees affect public discourse; to present methodology of discourse analysis; to explore how value orientation of “Refugees Welcome!” and “Refugees Not Welcome!” movements is constructed in different social websites “Facebook” and “Twitter”.
The qualitative and quantitative analysis of social networks content confirmed the hypothesis that in different symbolic (virtual) communities, European migrant crisis is presented diametrically contrary to the provisions of the target group to which the message is supposed to be addressed to. Concerning the case of “Refugees Not Welcome”, the information is deliberately intended to form a negative perception of refugees in an emphasis on western values, terrorism and the threat of “unwanted invaders”. Meanwhile, in the social network “Refugees Welcome” has been chosen communication strategy (style and rhetoric) aimed at forming a diametrically opposite counter through tolerance concept, willingness to help and deservingness to receive help, as expressed in positive attitudes towards representation of refugees as victims.