The nexus between discourse and multi-level governance during times of crisis : Sweden during the 2015-2016 refugee movements
Sammanfattning: In order to understand the role of discourse in a system of multi-level governance, this thesis performs a case study of Sweden’s response to the 2015-2016 refugee crisis. Initially praised as the European country who accepted the highest number of asylum applications per capita, by the end of 2015 Sweden had limited its asylum policy to the minimum levels under EU law. The abrupt policy change coincided with the emergence of two primary refugee discourses among media and politicians: a solidarity-oriented discourse and a problem-oriented discourse. While both discourses are visible at each level of governance, the national government expressed a commitment to solidarity through its humanitarian ideology while the local municipalities often described the challenges of accommodating the refugees as problematic. To analyze the impact of contrasting discourses at multiple levels of governance, a critical discourse analysis is conducted of news media in Sweden at the national level and the local level and discussed with reference to the theory of postcolonialism. The discourse analysis is then compared to the major changes to refugee policy at the national level and refugee reception at the local level. The results indicate a strong relationship between refugee policy/reception and media discourse at each level of governance, but a much weaker relationship between the levels of governance. This research provides new insight into the theory of multi-level governance and migration studies through its comparison of refugee governance at multiple levels.
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