Societal change or the scale of immigration? How the British press has influenced public concern about migration, 1997-2015

Migration remains high on policy and public agendas across Europe. The political implications of human mobility manifest themselves in many ways, including through shifts in voting patterns and policy responses to perceived ‘crises’. This talk considers mass media both as important venues of public and political debate about migration and as potential sources of information that shape how people perceive the issue. First, it draws upon linguistic analysis of over 200,000 articles mentioning migration-related terms in nine UK national newspapers between 1997-2015. Then, it links this analysis to levels of concern about migration among the British public, revealing that mentioning either sociocultural aspects or the scale and pace of migration is correlated with higher levels of public concern. The talk concludes with discussion about the role of information in shaping public perceptions about migration given political polarisation and expanding forms of digital communication.