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Conceptualising the Other: Online discourses on the current refugee crisis in Cyprus and in Poland

Fabienne Baider and Monika Kopytowska
From the journal Lodz Papers in Pragmatics

Abstract

Framed within cognitive linguistics, Critical Metaphor Analysis and social psychology, the present paper explores the dynamics of the online construction of the Other in the context of migration and current refugee crisis. Thematically, it scrutinizes online refugee- and migrant-related mainstream and social media discourses in two European countries, Cyprus and Poland, in 2015–2016. On the theoretical and methodological level, it looks at the constituted and constitutive nature of metaphorical conceptualisations of migrants/refugees, their axiological and emotional potential for threat construction, and thus impact on possible cognitive-affective attitudes of the host countries’ citizens. It is theorized here, in line with Conceptual Metaphor Theory, that the choices of particular metaphors and their frequency of usage are likely to influence the salience of issues among the public, activate certain moral evaluations and generate fear, thereby creating grounds for verbal and physical aggression targeted at the Other. The paper addresses the following questions: 1) How is the Other conceptualised as a THREAT in both physical and symbolic sense? 2) To what extent are particular metaphorical conceptualisations within the representation of migrants and refugees common to corpora from both countries and/or socio-cultural context dependent? 3) How can metaphors, including dehumanization, serve as a springboard for individual acts of prejudice, as well as systematic discrimination, and violence? The analysed data was collected within the European project C.O.N.T.A.C.T., exploring various aspects of hate speech and hate crime in ten EU countries.

Acknowledgement

The research reported in this paper has been carried out as part of the C.O.N.T.A.C.T. (Creating On-line Network, Monitoring Team and Phone App to Counter Hate Crime Tactics) project conducted in 2015–2017 and co-financed by the EU Commission (grant no. JUST/2014/RRAC/AG/HATE/6706). For details about project goals and activities visit reportinghate.eu.

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Published Online: 2017-12-19
Published in Print: 2017-12-20

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