The Linguistic Construction of Strangeness and Familiarity in Migration Coverage

This study investigates how the German news magazine DER SPIEGEL portrayed migrants in its cover stories from 1947 to 2010. Theoretically based on Georg Simmel’s “The Stranger” and against the background of changing guiding principles in the German migration policy, a qualitative content analysis is conducted. The study addresses three research questions: (1) How can the linguistic construction of strangeness and familiarity between migrants (“the foreigners”) and locals (“the Germans”) be described (e.g., as social, cultural, moral)? (2) How strongly are similarities and differences between both groups highlighted, and are they understood as a problem or a chance? (3) How far does the linguistic construction of migration and migrants change against the background of changing societal and political framework conditions?

In contrast to previous content analyses in this field have mostly focused on single events or short time periods, the current study allows for a real long-term perspective on media coverage on migrants and migration. This places reporting patterns in migration coverage in a larger context and allows for an appropriate assessment of current observations.


Melanie Magin (JGU Mainz, Germany)
Philipp Weichselbaum (JGU Mainz, Germany)

Project Duration