Framing Migration : A study on FRONTEX’s framing of migration during the European refugee crisis

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för ekonomisk historia och internationella relationer

Abstract: Over the past years, a body of literature have emerged exploring FRONTEX’s work along the EU’s borders. It suggests that FRONTEX not only frame migration as a security issue, but also as a humanitarianist issue. The literature argues the framing of migration as both an issue of security and humanitarianism legitimizes FRONTEX’s operations in the Mediterranean. However, there is a lack of understanding in how FRONTEX frames migration at the Western Balkans border, one of the EU’s busiest borders and indeed the busiest during the summer of 2015, registering over a million migrants. Therefore, by investigating how FRONTEX framed migration at the Western Balkans border between the years 2014-2017, this thesis sets out to make a unique contribution to the research field, furthering the understanding of how FRONTEX as an organization frames migration. To examine FRONTEX’s framing of migration, a theoretical framework consisting of theories of framing, risk and threat construction, and humanitarianism is deployed. The concepts of framing devices and reasoning devices are used in a qualitative content analysis to identify the presence of frames in the material consisting of FRONTEX published reports and press releases. The empirical results indicate that FRONTEX frames migration in the Western Balkans as primarily a security issue through language connecting migration to risk and threat. The humanitarianist frame, mainly evoked by references to migrants’ vulnerability, appears relatively few times in contrast to the security frame.

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