Successful collaboration begins with a shared language, hence the need for a glossary. This joint effort of contributors from several teams ensures, on the one hand, terminological and conceptual coherence across not only our theoretical approaches, but also the qualitative case studies and quantitative research conducted in OPPORTUNITIES. On the other hand, our glossary facilitates communication between the academic side of the project and the fieldwork conducted by NGOs, uniting our teams working from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Senegal.

For more information about the Structure and Objectives of the Glossary, click here...)

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Labour migration

The term labour migration refers to migration that is carried out for employment purposes. States such as Senegal have instituted specific regulation of immigration for employment purposes. Some states of origin play an active role in regulating labour migration and seeking employment opportunities abroad for their nationals.

⇢ see also brain drain, migration

References and further reading: Tandian, Aly, and Sylvia I. Bergh. 2014. “From Temporary Work in Agriculture to Irregular Status in Domestic Service: The Transition and Experiences of Senegalese Migrant Women in Spain.” In Migration, Gender and Social Justice: Perspectives on Human Insecurity, edited by Thanh-Dam Truong, Des Gasper, Jeff Handmaker, and Sylvia I. Bergh, 47–67. Berlin and Heidelberg : Springer. URL: Date of access: August 24, 2021.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


Legacy media

For a definition of this term, please see the respective entry in the Glossary on Media, Society, and Culture provided by the Rebus Community.

⇢ see also filter bubble

References and further reading: The Rebus Community. “Glossary on Media, Society and Culture.” Rebus Community. URL: Date of access: August 2

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 4, 5

[DC / LH / SM]

Level Telling Field

The Level Telling Field (LTF) is the key metaphor of OPPORTUNITIES, defining the way we seek to conceptualize and improve narrative dynamics in the public sphere. The concept is inspired by the sports metaphor of the “level playing field.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines this as “a state or condition of parity or impartiality; a situation offering equality of opportunity or in which fairness to all parties is observed.” In global trade, level playing fields ensure that “all countries and firms compete on an equal footing to offer consumers everywhere the widest possible choice and the best value for money” (OECD 2021, n. p.). In analogy to fair trade, level telling fields ensure fair competition between narratives, concepts, and ideas in the public sphere to prevent lies, distorted representations, toxic narratives, or xenophobic propaganda from shaping the public image of migrants and refugees and from influencing migration policies. Level Telling Fields are playbooks and mechanisms for an open, constructive, and productive debate – the cornerstone of a democratic, pluralist, secular society. They are best viewed as commitments by all participants in a debate to adopt a shared set of premises, to agree on principles and rules, and to define processes and procedures for conducting debates and documenting results.

LTF premises include: a) A commitment to a democratic worldview grounded in human rights and a human development paradigm (see Nussbaum 2010); b) Adhering to commonly accepted standards for evaluating claims, opinions, and arguments; and c) Sincerity, i.e. a serious commitment to debate as a democratic means of opinion-building and decision-making. LTF principles include vertical multiperspectivity, an ethics of listening, and perspective taking. LTF processes and procedures depend on contextual parameters such as participants and goals. An LTF approach to migration insists that all participants in a debate subscribe to these premises and principles, and define a set of procedures designed to ensure a fair conversation, e.g. in the context of a Cross Talk event. The LTF approach requires that a wide range of perspectives (i.e. experiential narratives of migration as well as policy narratives on migration) should be represented, and calls for a system of checks and balances to move beyond the toxic debates which have characterized European narratives on migration following the so-called refugee crisis in 2015. Level telling fields can be established locally, in Cross Talk events, but they also have an impact on national and European conversations on controversial issues. The LTF approach is not limited to migration. It seeks to overcome gridlock scenarios, challenges partisan and tribal politics, and addresses wide-spread feelings of anger, frustration, and anxiety (see Mishra 2017, Shafak 2020) which are indicative of the closing of public space in a “post-democracy” (Crouch 2004). LTF playbooks and mechanisms continue examining the shifting boundaries of public and private spheres (see Habermas 1992) as well as other consequences of digital communication. They also serve as diagnostic tools for evaluating narrative dynamics in the public sphere and detecting threats to democratic systems of checks and balances across the globe (see Ziblatt and Levitsky 2018).

⇢ see also Cross Talk, ethics of listening, multiperspectivity, narrative dynamics, narratives of migration, narratives on migration, perspective taking

References and further reading:

  • Crouch, Colin. 2004. Post-Democracy. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Habermas, Jürgen. 1992. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Mishra, Pankaj. 2018. Age of Anger: A History of the Present. London: Penguin.
  • Nussbaum, Martha. 2010. Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. Princeton: Princeton UP.
  • Shafak, Elif. 2020. How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division. London: Profile Books. OECD. 2021. “Levelling the Playing Field.” OECD. URL: Date of access: August 24, 2021.
  • Ziblatt, Daniel, and Steven Levitsky. 2018. How Democracies Die. New York, NY: Crown.

Category: C

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


Life story

Life stories are narratives that individuals or groups (co-)construct to share experiences. Research in narrative studies distinguishes between big stories and small stories in this context. While the term big story mainly refers to the coherent narrative of a person’s self or personal identity, so-called small stories qualify as narratives we tell each other in everyday communication for the purposes of making sense of our experiences and forming collective identities with specific social groups. A special type of small story is the “broken narrative” (Nünning and Nünning 2016) – stories people tell to come to terms with lifechanging experiences such as a severe illness, a trauma, or other kinds of social, political, economic, or ecological crisis. Since these narratives are associated with a drastic rupture in people’s lives, they display a high degree of tellability; they are frequently incoherent, fragmented, or disorganized (see Hyvärinen et al. 2010). Migrant stories may constitute such broken narratives, especially if they deal with traumatic experiences of war, violence, suppression, or flight. 

⇢ see also experience, migrant narrative, migration and identity, narrative identity, tellability

References and further reading:

  • Bamberg, Michael. 2007. “Stories: Big or Small – Why Do We Care?” In Narrative – State of the Art, edited by Michael Bamberg, 165–174. Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
  • Bamberg, Michael, and Alexandra Georgakopoulou. 2008. “Small Stories as a New Perspective in Narrative and Identity Analysis.” Text & Talk 28.3: 377–396. Georgakopoulou, Alexandra. 2006. Small Stories, Interaction and Identities. Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
  • Hyvärinen, Matti, Lars-Christer Hydén, Marja Saarenheimo, and Maria Tamboukou, eds. 2010. Beyond Narrative Coherence. Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
  • Nünning, Ansgar, and Vera Nünning. 2016. “Conceptualizing ‘Broken Narratives’ from a Narratological Perspective: Domains, Concepts, Features, Functions, and Suggestions for Research.” In Narrative im Bruch: Theoretische Positionen und Anwendungen, edited by Anna Babka, Marlen Bidwell-Steiner, and Wolfgang Müller-Funk, 37–86. Wien: V & R unipress / Vienna University Press.
  • Ochs, Elinor, and Lisa Capps. 2001. Living Narrative: Creating Lives in Everyday Storytelling. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


Limited effects paradigm

For a definition of this concept, please see the entry on “limited effects” in the Glossary on Media, Society, and Culture provided by the Rebus Community.

References and further reading: The Rebus Community. “Glossary on Media, Society and Culture.” Rebus Community. URL:

Date of access: August 24, 2021.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 4, 5

[DC / LH / SM]