The Construction of Immigration in Italian Media

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The project will attempt to analyse the construction of immigration in Italian media and its normative implications. The argument is that there are normative implications in constructing immigration. To illustrate this, I will begin by analysing
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  How is immigration constructed in Italian media? What are the normative implications? Word Count: 2.991 Abstract The project will attempt to analyse the construction of immigration in Italian media and its normative implications. The argument is that there are normative implications in constructing immigration. To illustrate this, I will begin by analysing existing literature, which sets a stepping stone for my research but is also filled with cracks, which I will attempt to fill. I will then analyse the discourse of six articles and comment on how the discourse has transitioned over the six months from the beginning of the Mare Nostrum operation, which sets the background for this study, and April 2014. I will then examine the normative implications of the discourse within the articles, and finally I will state that there are some inevitable limitations within the project. I will conclude by stating that my argument stands, as the study will show that immigration is constructed as an economic issue, where the normative implication is that the human element in the debate on immigration in Italy is lost. Introduction  This project will analyse how the issue of immigration is constructed in Italian media and what the resulting arising normative implications are. To investigate how immigration is constructed in Italian media, I firstly looked at the existing literature attached to the discourse on immigration: specifically at the work of Nicole Lindstrom, which set the framework for my project, at the work of Anna Triandafallydou, and at the studies  Y0081160   2 conducted at La Sapienza University under Professor Mario Morcellini, which gave evidence of existing possibilities to research in the topic as well as proving that there are gaps within current literature. I then analysed how immigration is constructed by three of the main Italian newspapers. The articles chosen from these newspapers, namely  Corriere della Sera , La Repubblica  and Il Giornale , relate to migration to the island of Lampedusa and the implementation of the Mare Nostrum operation in October 2013. The analysis brought to the conclusion that in the six months since the commencement of the operation the discourse on immigration transitioned from a discourse attached to a humanitarian issue to one attached to an economic issue. Finally, I conclude by evaluating the inevitable limitations of this project, some of which are attached to the limitations of the methods chosen, discourse analysis and normative theory, and some to my personal understanding and approach to this project under an anti- foundationalist, interpretavist, qualitative approach. Immigration and existing literature The existing literature tied to the issue of immigration and discourse and immigration and normative theory is rich but there are many gaps. Nicole Lindstrom’s work on ‘Transna tional Responses to Human Trafficking’ (Lindstrom; 2007, 61) provided my project with a framework to approach the question. Although Lindstrom’s work is based on the politics of anti- trafficking in the Balkans, her argument that the ‘policy area is based on a consensus on the nature of the trafficking problem. Yet in practice, we can observe significant differences among actors in their conceptualisation of the trafficking problem and how it should be tackled’ (Lindstrom; 2007, 63), provided an important stepping stone for my project. She  Y0081160   3 continues by stating that ‘actors have framed the issue of human trafficking’ (L indstrom; 2007, 63) differently contributing to the construction of varied approaches. This work is in line with my assumption that framing immigration in specific ways has various normative implications, and thus contributes to the construction of specific responses or strategies to tackle the issue. Lindstrom’s work brought me to look more closely to the dis course attached to immigration to Italy. Anna Traiandafyllidou places the importance of understanding immigration in Italy within a historical context as it is a country that has ‘been transformed from sender*s+ to host*s+’ (Traiandafyllidou; 2000, 373)  of migrants. Beyond the historical significance of analysing migration to Italy, Traiandafyllidou argues that there are two contrasting normative discourses: the first emphasizes a humanist and solidarity approach, where migrants are ‘seen as (potential) members of the ingroup’ (Traiandafyllidou; 2000, 387); the second is a nationalistic approach within which ‘foreigners do not belong to Our society’ (Traiandafyllidou; 2000, 387). Traiandafyllidou‘s  work provided an important stepping stone towards Professor Mario Morcellini’s study on how immigrants and asylum seekers are portrayed in Italian media . Morcellini argues that media, television and newspapers, portray immigration within a ‘security dimension’ (Morcellini; 2009, 2) as the existence of immigrants on Italian soil is ‘‘naturally’   a problem’ (Morcellini; 2009, 2). The picture of the ‘immigrant’ constructed by Italian media is one of a criminal, in 80% of the cases a man, where the immigrant’s motivations are defined by his/her nationality or ethnicity. The implication of portraying  Y0081160   4 immigration under this light is that immigration is ‘a problem that needs solving’ (Morcellini; 2009, 5). The existing literature that I have approached has shown that there is a scope for answering my question (within the framework provided by Lindstrom), as none of the literature specifically looks at the construction of immigration by newspapers. Moreover, the literature does not look to immigration and the Mare Nostrum operation as it was implemented in October 2013. There is, therefore, an opportunity to draw on a conclusion at an important benchmark (six months) from the start of the operation, while creating a dialogue with existing academic literature in the hopes of developing and advancing current knowledge on the topic. The importance of this lies in the fact that the issue of immigration has been used as a tool to gain party support. The Lega Nord 1  has had a newfound wave of support arguing that immigration not only damages Italy on the economic but also on the cultural level, as Italian culture is ‘bastardized’  by the mix of cultures. Approaching the Research  In trying to answer the question of how immigration is portrayed in Italian media, I firstly had to decide what newspapers to use within the time frame of the implementation of Mare Nostrum , ‘ a military and humanitarian operation ’. The operation began on October 18 th  2013 due to the exceptional influx of migrants and the number of casualties during the migration. The beginning of the operation gave me a starting date for my research, and April, roughly six months from the starting date, became a good benchmark to compare and contrast the portrayal of immigration within Italian media. This meant that my search for 1  Henceforth abbreviated to LN  Y0081160   5 articles was within the ‘October 1 st  2013 to April 30 th   2014’  time frame, so I could have an article from the beginning of the operation   and one from April. I researched the most read newspapers in Italy, both in digital and print format, and came across a study from November 2013 that placed Corriere della Sera followed by La Repubblica at the top of the list. These newspapers are traditionally attached to a more centre and centre-left agenda and, to diversify my research, I decided to include Il Giornale within the sample. Il Giornale is the eleventh most read newspaper in Italy and has a centre-right agenda, as it is owned by Silvio Berlusconi but does not function as a party journal. In bringing in newspapers with varied political backgrounds but focused on a common topic, I hoped to find a common ground that could enrich my project and further current knowledge. Immigration and Italian Media  To approach the text within the newspaper articles and derive conclusions on how the chosen newspapers portray immigration, I will be using discourse analysis. Discourse analysis is a qualitative form of analysis that examines the meaning in texts, and so is concerned with the ways in which language and meaning give legitimacy and meaning to social practices and institutions. Discourse is a form of action, as words do not just describe, they do. This understanding of discourse analysis ties in well with normative theory as the project aims to discover the normative implications of the language used and constructed by Italian media. Corriere della Sera  
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