Refugees as People: The Portrayal of Refugees in American Human Interest Stories

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Journal of Refugee Studies, ISSN: 0951-6328, Vol: 23, Issue: 2, Page: 219-237

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Steimel, Sarah J.
Oxford University Press (OUP)
Social Sciences; refugees; discourse analysis; America; Broadcast and Video Studies; Communication; Critical and Cultural Studies; Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication; Journalism Studies; Mass Communication; Organizational Communication
article description
This study combines discourse analysis and narrative analysis (Yin 2007) to examine top US newspapers' coverage of refugees in American human interest stories. I find that the refugees are presented (a) as prior victims; (b) as in search of the American Dream; and (c) as unable to achieve the American Dream. As human-interest features, the stories provide a largely positive portrayal of individual refugees and their families. However, the human interest stories also depict refugees as current victims of the American economic crisis; deeply frustrated by their inability to achieve the American Dream. Together these discourses represent a narrative of escape, hope, and then harsh reality for refugees in America's current economic climate. © The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: