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(Re)constructing a hostile environment: political claims making and the primary definers of a refugee “crisis”

Tom Montgomery (Department of Social Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Francesca Calo (Department of Public Leadership and Social Enterprise, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)
Simone Baglioni (Department of Economics and Management, University of Parma, Parma, Italy)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 31 August 2022

Issue publication date: 6 June 2023




In this article focused upon the UK context, the authors sought to better understand how political elites shaped public debate to reinforce rather than challenge the hostile policy environment for those seeking asylum.


The authors undertook a political claims analysis (Koopmans and Statham, 1999) focussing on a venue that has been pivotal in shaping the discourse around asylum issues in the UK, namely the print media. This work adopts a theoretical frame informed by the work of Stuart Hall to uncover the extent to which debates on asylum during the key period of the refugee emergency in Europe were shaped by political elites.


The study’s findings reveal the extent to which political elites acted as “primary definers” of the “crisis” and utilised that position to cast those arriving in Europe as a threat to be managed.


This research offers a contemporary worked example of political claims analysis in a topical subject area that colleagues across disciplines and contexts may find informative for their own research agendas.



The research contained in this article has been made possible through funding from the European Commission: European Horizon 2020 programme for the project ‘TransSOL’ under grant agreement No 649435.


Montgomery, T., Calo, F. and Baglioni, S. (2023), "(Re)constructing a hostile environment: political claims making and the primary definers of a refugee “crisis”", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 43 No. 7/8, pp. 661-676.



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