Edited by Ekaterina Balabanova and Ruxandra Trandafoiu
[Journal of Language and Politics 19:3] 2020
► pp. 413–435
Norm destruction, norm resilience
The media and refugee protection in the UK and Hungary during Europe’s ‘Migrant Crisis’
Principles of refugee protection in Europe are said to have come under great pressure with the populist and nationalist backlash to the ‘migrant crisis’, often traced to illiberal regimes in post-communist countries. This paper tests these claims by comparatively analysing media coverage in the UK and Hungary, establishing the extent to which specific norms were challenged or upheld in April and September 2015. It develops a new methodology connecting ethical justifications for migration controls with the ‘normative terrain’ of refugee protection. The findings complicate existing assumptions about differences between conservative and progressive-leaning publications, and also the divide and direction of travel between Old/New and East/West in the European context. The article challenges the narrative of the ‘illiberal wind’ and advances understanding of the relationship between political culture and media systems in Europe, and the toxic nature of media coverage in relation to the survival of the normative regime around refugees.