Figures of Crisis: The Delineation of (Un)Deserving Refugees in the German Media

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This article examines how borders are discursively reproduced in representations of the ‘refugee crisis’ in the German media. Based on an extensive content and discourse analysis of German press representations in 2015 and 2016, we argue that the discourse of crisis obscures the reasons for migration and instead shifts the focus to the advantages and disadvantages that refugees are assumed to bring to their host country. More specifically, we contend that press discourses construct a figure of the (un)deserving refugee around three key themes: economic productivity; state security; and gender relations. In doing so, we illustrate how the framing of some lives as more deserving of protection than others directly mirrors and extends the humanitarian securitization of borders into public discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-550
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Early online date1 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Germany
  • borders
  • discourse
  • figures
  • humanitarian securitization
  • refugee crisis


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