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From Wanderers to Strangers. The shifting space of Scandinavian immigration debate 1970–2016

Jan Fredrik Hovden EMAIL logo
From the journal Communications

Abstract

The media coverage of immigration serves as an important test for modern democracies’ ability to handle difficult public issues. Systematic and comparative studies over longer time periods are, however, still rare. This is deeply unfortunate as the nature of both immigration and the press systems vary considerably not only across nations but also over time. This article charts the immigration debate in seven Scandinavian newspapers from the birth of modern immigration in the early seventies to the present-day situation. While supporting claims about a general historical shift towards a more problematizing and cultural discourse in Scandinavia, the analysis also identifies major differences in how countries, publications, and genres have handled this complex issue, which brings out fundamental dilemmas for both modern welfare states and journalists. Using the method of multiple correspondence analysis and subsequent cluster analysis, the article also demonstrates how historical press coverage can be fruitfully studied using Geometric Data Analysis as an alternative to frequentist methods.

Aknowledgements

The author would like to thank the good colleagues in the Scanpub project, first and foremost the project leader Jostein Gripsrud and Anniken Hagelund for their helpful comments to the article, and postdoc Hilmar Mjelde for having been an integral partner in the work on the quantitative content analysis, including the development of the codebook, supervising the coding, and analyzing the material in other articles from the project.


Funding

The author gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Norwegian Research Council (FRIHUMSAM ToppForsk Grant number 250598).


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APPENDIX

Table A1:

Variables and categories contributing above-average to axis 1–3. Absolute contributions and coordinates.

DIMENSION 1 (+)

Ctr

Coord

DIMENSION 2 (+)

Ctr

Coord

DIMENSION 3 (+)

Ctr

Coord

Multiculturalism: Yes

9.7

1.52

Racism: Yes

9.1

1.01

THREAT – Social cohesion: Yes

10.1

1.83

HERO – Integration: Yes

9.6

1.72

VICTIM: Racism and discrim.: Yes

6.4

0.82

Immigration debate: Yes

7.5

1.51

HERO – Good worker: Yes

7.1

1.36

Crime: Yes

5.1

0.64

THREAT – Fiscal: Yes

6.7

1.59

Education: Yes

6.1

1.23

Legal immigration: No

4.1

0.41

Politician (voice): Yes

5.6

0.69

Attitudes: Yes

5.6

1.42

Religion: Yes

3.7

0.92

Welfare: Yes

4.7

0.75

HERO – Diversity: Yes

5.3

1.99

VICTIM – Humanitarian: No

1.7

0.23

Economy: Yes

4.5

0.96

Work: Yes

4.8

0.81

Integration: No

1.4

0.22

THREAT – Public order: Yes

4.4

0.77

Integration: Yes

3.9

0.62

Integration: Yes

3.1

0.46

Culture: Yes

2.9

1.13

DIMENSION 2 (-)

Ctr

Coord

Religion: Yes

3.1

0.74

Immigration debate: Yes

2.7

1.08

VICTIM – Humanitarian: Yes

6.3

-0.85

Media (voice): Yes

3.1

0.88

Family and customs: Yes

2.4

0.71

Legal immigration: Yes

5.9

-0.59

Family and customs: Yes

1.9

0.53

THREAT – Social cohesion: Yes

2.4

1.09

Welfare: Yes

5.7

-0.93

National security: Yes

1.6

0.56

VICTIM: Racism and discrim.: Yes

2.1

0.50

Economy: Yes

5.0

-1.14

Racism: Yes

1.7

0.47

THREAT – Fiscal: Yes

3.4

-1.27

DIMENSION 3 (-)

Religion: Yes

1.5

0.63

Work: Yes

3.3

-0.63

HERO – Good worker: Yes

8.3

-1.22

Integration: Yes

3.3

-0.53

Immigrant (voice): Yes

4.8

-0.66

DIMENSION 1 (-)

Ctr

Coord

Civil rights: Yes

3.0

-0.69

Culture: Yes

3.7

-1.05

Crime: Yes

2.7

-0.50

Racism: No

2.5

-0.28

HERO – Integration: Yes

3.0

-0.79

Civil society (voice): Yes

2.0

-0.46

Crime: No

2.3

-0.28

Work: Yes

2.5

-0.48

Integration: No

1.6

-0.26

VICTIM: Racism and discrim.: No

2.0

-0.25

HERO – Diversity: Yes

2.2

-1.06

VICTIM – Humanitarian: Yes

1.6

-0.46

Education: Yes

1.9

-0.63

Politician (voice): No

1.6

-0.20

Illegal immigration: Yes

1.5

-0.77

VICTIM – War: Yes

1.9

-0.88

Legal immigration: Yes

1.4

-0.31

HERO – Good worker: Yes

1.7

-0.61

THREAT – Public order: Yes

1.3

-0.51

NGO (voice): Yes

1.5

-0.57

Published Online: 2020-12-18
Published in Print: 2020-11-18

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