The large-scale arrival of asylum seekers and refugees to Europe in 2015 stirred media debates, changed political orientations and agendas, and developed new kinds of civil society mobilizations. While public discourse continuously refers to the perceived effects and symbolic value of what was coined the “refugee crisis”, there is surprisingly little research on the ways the “crisis” was framed in media and by politicians, as well as its socio-political effects on political mobilizing, discourses of migration and the interplay between differently positioned actors.

This project sets out to investigate the mediatized politics of the experienced crisis at the Finnish-Swedish border during and after autumn 2015. Firstly, we examine the transnational influences between the Finnish and Swedish media, with a special focus on the role of the Swedish-language media in Finland in circulating and producing discourses on migration, crisis and political mobilizations. Secondly, the project analyses the media coverage of anti-immigration and solidarity mobilizations, investigating the interaction between news media and social media when reporting on the activities and views presented by these groups. Thirdly, the project examines the understandings of “crisis” in the solidarity activism that developed to support the newly arrived asylum seekers. The project proposes that the studied period was actually characterized by multiple crises, with different actors seeking to create a dominant frame of “the crisis.”

The research design is based on a mixed-methods analysis of three interlinked corpora: 1) mainstream news reporting, 2) solidarity activist media use, and 3) anti-immigration mobilization in social media and countermedia outlets.

The project is situated at the Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism (CEREN) at the Swedish School of Social Science, University of Helsinki, and funded by the Swedish Cultural Foundation (2019-2022).