Migration and Narrative. Key Terms and Concepts

The Glossary includes key terms from discourses on migration, integration, narrative, and media representation that will be used frequently in Opprtunities. In addition to these thematic areas, the glossary provides relevant terminology from corpus linguistics, quantitaive media studies, and narrative theory. This wide semantic field gives shape to our two core concepts, the Cross Talk and the Level telling Field.

With this glossary we launch a fruitful dialogue we seek to initiate on different levels, on political, societal and scientific level.


Cross-country comparison of media selection and attitudes towards narratives of migration

In this report, we provide a cross-country comparison of news media consumption patterns and anti-immigrant, refugee, and Muslim sentiments in four European countries: Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Italy. Data were collected among adults aged 25 to 65 through an online survey fielded during three weeks in May and June 2021.


Trends in attitudes towards migration in Europe A comparative analysis

This report examines the evolution in attitudes towards migrants and migration in Europe. Concretely, the report investigates and discusses the changes in the perception of migrants and attitudes towards migration between 2002-2018 using the European Social Survey data. Both the evolution of migration perceptions within countries and the cross-national evolution across European countries are discussed and illustrated visually. The analyses indicate that most Europeans are either ambivalent or relatively positive about migration. Further, important between-country differences are present in Europe. Central and Eastern European countries are especially negative about migration, and they have also grown more negative in the wake of the 2015-2016 refugee crisis. Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon countries, in contrast, hold more positive views. In fact, in most European countries, citizens have become more supportive of tolerant immigration policies over the examined period, though few are supportive of an open border policy. Finally, certain categories of citizens in the sample tend to exhibit lower levels of support for migration. Citizens with lower levels of income and education, (radical) right-leaning political attitudes, low levels of trust, and the elderly, are on average more negative about migrants and open border policies.


Narrative Dynamics and Migration Centrifugal vs. Centripetal Forces

Narratives influence the public perception of migration and attitudes towards migrants and refugees, often with unintended and unanticipated consequences. In order to further our understanding of the construction, emergence of, and interaction between different kinds of narratives, this paper proposes a programmatic concept of narrative dynamics. Narrative dynamics research is equally interested in the pragmatics of narrative framing and the grand narratives of human rights, in fake news, propaganda and disinformation, in mundane stories of everyday experience and the intangible myths and masterplots which shape organizations, institutions, and cultures. The paper concentrates on wide-spread phenomena, revealing key features of narratives: event modeling and event management, purpose and chaff, aggregation and normalization, as well as (re)alignment and redirection. In addition to this, the paper focuses on scenarios involving multiple and competing narratives, and it introduces a distinction between centrifugal and centripetal effects. Three examples – German welcome culture in 2015, Matteo Salvini’s confrontation with Sea Watch in 2019, and online hate speech against a Red Cross volunteer in Ceuta in 2021 – demonstrate how these concepts help us to analyse political framings of migration and responses to representations of migration.


The Twitter Debate on Immigration in Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Italy: Politicians’ articulations of the discourses of openness and closure

The debate between the political left and the political right has increasingly become a debate on the benefits and drawbacks of immigration. In this report we analyze the lexical choices to be found in the Twitter discourse of politicians from four adjacent countries: Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Italy.
Seven Twitter accounts were scrutinised to compare the views of traditional parties (socialist, liberal, and conservative) with those of the “new” far-right, anti-immigration parties. We considered a large sample period going from January 1 st, 2015 to May 1st , 2021 (7,294,569 words). A corpus-based linguistic analysis showed that the concept of “borders” is central to the discourse of the right and far right, while left-wing/centrist politicians favour “integration”. Nevertheless, both far-right and traditional parties use discursive “safety valves” to stave off attacks from the other side. Right-wing/far-right politicians strive to avoid accusations of racism, while left-wing/centrist politicians fear being represented as blindly believing in the benefits of immigration. Regardless of political affiliation, opposition politicians in need of attention also tend to take an antagonistic stance in their communication.


Beyond Vicarious Storytelling How Level Telling Fields Help Create a Fair Narrative on Migration

Life stories play a crucial role in migration discourses: they serve as testimony in journalistic work, form the core of ambassadorial storytelling by NGOs, and inspire collaborative projects initiated by writers seeking to express their solidarity. However, this article argues, drawing on migrants’ experiences for such purposes also creates an ethical dilemma: speaking about – or even for – rather than with migrants assigns them a passive role and tends to recycle existing narrative patterns and templates. Starting with a generic distinction between what we call stories of migration (various forms of self-expression granting migrants full authority and control over their narrative) and narratives on migration (external perspectives, e.g. academic, economic, political, and legal approaches, where lived experience doesn’t matter), we explore the extensive middle ground of hybrid forms between these two extremes – i.e. different kinds of vicarious storytelling – before discussing their ethical implications. We further show how the idea of the level playing field, a key concept in economics, can be used in transdisciplinary research projects to establish level telling fields, i.e. communicative spaces characterized by a fair dialogue on an equal footing for all participants.


Changing attitudes towards migration in Europe. Dynamic analyses (2002-2018).

In a growingly diverse Europe, understanding what European citizens think about migrants and refugees becomes increasingly relevant. This report seeks to contribute to a better understanding of migration preferences, by examining the changing attitudes of citizens towards immigrants and migration policies in Europe. The aim of the report is two-fold. First, it seeks to understand how attitudes have changed in the last two decades in Europe (2002- 2018), and what might be driving these changes. Second, the report uncovers individual and country level typologies of migration preferences. Part one of the quantitative analyses builds on group conflict, and contact theory. Group conflict theory argues that intergroup competition influences attitudes towards the representatives of an outgroup, such as ethnic minorities or immigrants. These perceptions are not only influenced by the structural position of the individual (e.g., socio-economic status), but also by contextual factors, such as changes in a country’s economic situation or an influx of migrants. In contrast, contact theory suggests that more diversity can lead to more support for migration through increased intergroup contact between the host nation and immigrants. Building on these theories and using all nine rounds of the European Social Survey (ESS), the analyses delineate the change in attitudes towards immigrants and migration before, during, and after the refugee crisis of 2015-2016, covering the period between 2002 and 2018. The report examines relevant explanatory factors at the individual (e.g., social class) and contextual level (e.g., % of foreign-born population). Mixed evidence is found for the notion that countries that receive more immigrants, or those that experience an economic downturn, are less supportive of migration. Cleavages between citizens in terms of political attitudes and socio-demographic characteristics, on the other hand, appear to be important drivers of migration preferences. The analyses can thus only partially confirm group conflict or contact theory. There are also some indications that migration attitudes in most European countries have become more positive in the last two decades. Part two of the analyses investigates the multidimensionality of attitudes towards migration in the European population, through creating a typology of different perspectives on migration. Analyses are based on the European Social Survey’s 2002 module, which focuses on attitudes towards migration and asylum policy, and on the 2016 module, which was fielded after the 2015-2016 refugee crisis. These analyses provide evidence for three distinct individual level profiles. Most European citizens can be classified as having either out spokenly open, or restrictive attitudes about migration, and do not distinguish between the type of immigrant, or the aspects of migration citizens find the most threatening. A sizeable group of citizens, moreover, is selective about migration. They are supportive of migration in general, but also fear the impact of immigrants on their society. Hence, most European citizens remain luke warm about migration, and this pattern is also reflected at the country level.


Cross Talks in African countries. Adapting the Cross Talk methodology.

The Cross Talk methodology aims at creating a Level Telling Field and establishing the conditions for
a “fair dialogue” between migrants and persons or institutions who can have an impact on the lives of
the migrants. It seeks to answer the question of how a society can be inclusive. The key question of the
Cross Talks is developed from a European perspective.
In an African context this key question is only one out of many questions. Moreover, there are other
questions that are more urgent. These manifold questions come from a wide and diverse group of
migrants: internal migrants, emigrants, transmigrants, regular and irregular migrants, returning (forced
or voluntary) migrants. The various groups have their own aspirations and try to live a life that they
have reasons to appreciate.
In an African context super-diversity is the main characteristic. The Cross Talk methodology must
therefore be adjusted to answer this super-diversity. This includes a broadening and a multiplication of
the dialogue sessions, the use of more and more different methods, and the involvement of the wider
In the African context the Cross Talks want to mobilise the entire society to realise real change for the
African people and all the persons with aspirations to migrate.


Figures de candidats sénégalais à la migration

In this paper migration in Senegal is explained: trends, reasons, populations, ... This paper is in French.

"Au cours des dernières années, le Sénégal est fortement marqué par la migration. Par conséquent, celle-ci est au centre des discussions des populations et au cœur de l’actualité. Fait social majeur, son importance s’est davantage accrue avec le fait sensationnel de migration par les pirogues. Elle est devenue un des rares thèmes de discussion avec les séances de lutte capable de réunir toutes les franges locales quels que soient l’âge, le sexe, le groupe ethnique, le niveau scolaire, le statut professionnel, etc. C’est ainsi que dans les journaux sénégalais, il est récurrent de lire dans la rubrique réservée aux "Faits divers" des scènes affairant à la question du voyage comme en témoignent ceux-ci :  « Abus de confiance : Il vend les 20 tonnes de ciment de la dame et voyage en Espagne (Le Soleil du mercredi 31 octobre 2007) ... Ces situations laissent penser à quel point la migration est au cœur des quotidiens des populations sénégalaises. Elle mobilise toutes les couches sociales avec une présence importante de jeunes originaires à la fois des zones rurales et urbaines, certains disposent de riches capitaux scolaires d’autres non et il en est de même pour les capitaux professionnels depuis plusieurs années. "



In this paper the route of migration in Senegal is explained. Testimonies are used to decribe the different trajects. ... This paper is in French.

"Les points exposés dans ce documents sont « pourquoi partir ? », les « destinations rêvées », les « préparatifs du voyage », les « difficultés rencontrées au cours du voyage » et l’ « expulsion : entre échec et source de motivation de l’émigré ».



In this paper on route of migration via Niger is explained. Testimonies are used to understand the reasons and the difficulties and barriers to migrate. ... This paper is in French.

"Cette recherche s’intéresse aux migrants sénégalais qui se rendent au Niger par voie terrestre en espérant, un jour, atteindre l’Europe à la suite de plusieurs escales. En route, les migrants sénégalais s'installent fréquemment dans des carrefours migratoires pour travailler et financer les prochaines escales. C’est ainsi que depuis le Mali (Bamako, Bougouni et Sikasso) ou au Burkina Faso (Bobo-Dioulasso, Ouagadougou, etc.), etc. des migrants sénégalais sont retrou-vés dans l’artisanat, la maçonnerie ou la vente ambulante, etc. Au Niger, ils sont souvent à Niamey ou à Agadez, deux grands carrefours historiques où ils se débrouillent pour leur sur-vie.


An introduction to level playing field: from a sporting metaphor to a social policy instrument

This paper provides a short introduction to the concept of level playing field (LPF) and how it has travelled from a sporting metaphor to other social spheres to invoke the need for the setting up of common rules to achieve equality of opportunity for all. The paper starts with a discussion of some of the conceptual issues of LFP (section 2) that lead us directly to one of the most important applications of LPF in economics in general (section 3) and international trade in particular. The latter pays particular attention to the principle of LPF in the setting up and evolution of the European Union (section 4). The paper also provides case studies of the application of LPF in other areas such as education (with a focus on the role of families) (section 5), labour market (with a focus on the relationship between LPF and discrimination) (section 6) and digital media (section 7). In section 8 the paper provides some thought on the nexus of LPF and level-telling-field. The final concluding section 9 provides some tentative general lessons emerging from the discussion of the nexus of LPF and LTF.


Je voyage, donc je suis!

« Nous avons toutes les raisons de partir ! Imagine-toi un homme de mon âge qui part en Europe sans diplôme sans formation et au bout de deux ans il revient au Sénégal pour construire de belles maisons, conduire de belles voitures, etc. Il revient au pays trouvant ses amis surdiplômés et surqualifiés mais qui vivent dans la galère. Il y a de quoi se demander si celui qui préfère rester au pays n’est pas en train de perdre son temps malgré les études faites. À la longue, les gens peuvent même se dire avec certitude que les jeunes qui ont choisi de migrer ont raison sur les autres. Voilà̀ une chose qui aiguise l’appétit de vouloir migrer »
(Amadou, 17 ans, Candidat à la migration).

Au Sénégal, au cours de ces dernières années, la migration a suscité de nombreuses interrogations et recherches qui ont influencé des politiques. Néanmoins le phénomène demeure difficile à cerner à cause des ambiguïtés qui se cachent derrière certains concepts. Si la sécheresse ou les crises politiques sont des raisons fréquemment évoquées pour expliquer les migrations sénégalaises, bien d'autres facteurs entrent
en jeu et échappent souvent aux analyses mécanistes qui tentent d'expliquer les choix des destinations migratoires.

Ce document de travail donne une vue d'ensemble des causes de la migration, des causes qui sont plus larges que ce que l'on pense habituellement en Europe.


Expressions artistiques sur les causes profondes des migrations

Demander aux enfants de dessiner sur les causes de la migration est un exercice passionnant. En effet, il suffit de créer une situation motivante à travers la mobilisation d’une série de questions, afin qu’ils parviennent à produire une pensée créative et à réfléchir de manière critique sur la question migratoire. C’est donc un exercice d’éveil qui contribue au développement et à l’épanouissement de l’enfant. En d’autres termes, il forge un destin d’homme capable de participer pleinement à la marche de sa société et de son histoire.

Dessiner des images peut être un outil puissant d’expression et de communication visuelle pour les enfants du Club d’éducation artistique plastique du Collège d'Enseignement Moyen André Henry Louis Guillabert de Saint-Louis du Sénégal.

Les images dessinées par les enfants aident ceux-ci à s'exprimer diversement :

  • Communication non verbale : Dessiner des images, offre aux enfants une autre façon de communiquer leurs pensées et leurs sentiments sans se fier uniquement aux mots.
  • Expression créative : Dessiner des images, encourage les enfants à utiliser leur imagination et leur créativité pour transmettre leurs idées et leurs sentiments.
  • Libération émotionnelle : Dessiner des images, fournit un exutoire sûr et constructif pour des émotions négatives comme la colère, la frustration ou la tristesse.
  • Découverte de soi : en dessinant des images, les enfants explorent leur propre identité et leur sens de soi. Les enfants expérimentent différents styles, couleurs et supports, et les utilisent pour exprimer leur individualité et leurs préférences personnelles.
  • Compétences en communication : Dessiner des images, aide les enfants à développer leurs compétences en communication en les encourageant à réfléchir sur la manière de transmettre efficacement leurs idées.

Dans l'ensemble, dessiner des images est un outil puissant permettant aux enfants du Club d’éducation artistique plastique du Collège d'Enseignement Moyen André Henry Louis Guillabert de Saint-Louis du Sénégal de s'exprimer librement en développant une gamme de compétences émotionnelles, créatives et communicationnelles. Le dessin permet ainsi à l’enfant de développer son imagination, son sens d’observation et son habileté manuelle.


Analyse des migrations sénégalaises : entre deconstruction et decentration empirique des causes

Presentation of a survey on reasons to migrate. Presentation given as an introduction to the discussion with political representatives in Dakar, Senegal, February 2023.
Professor Aly Tandian


Policy brief: Cross-country comparison of media selection and attitudes towards narratives on migration

Based on an OPPORTUNITIES survey on media consumption and attitudes towards migrants, OPPORTUNITIES formulates a first set of recommendations on how politicians and media should communicate.


Policy Statement. Unaccompanied Children Outside the Level Telling Field and Protection Systems

There are large groups of minors and juniors who need protection but lack carers and representatives with voice. These groups do not merely operate on the margins of the level telling, but they are out-side it. They are completely excluded despite the facts that they are physically present in societies, socially entangled, and that their life worlds are directly affected by the structures and systems of society. We are referring, here, to unaccompanied migrant and refugee children in the European Un-ion’s Member States. For those children fleeing prosecution in their home countries, the asylum regimes of the host coun-tries provide, and/or ought to provide, a level of protection. The degree to which this level of protec-tion is acceptable and holistic remains debatable and needs to be verified by statistics on whether minors’ applications for refugee status are increasing, processed without obstacles and are successful. But migrant children who are not in the asylum system remain exposed to very serious, and often life threatening, risks. They have travelled to the EU alone, may lack documentation, are alone in host countries and face serious risks of exploitation, abuse and neglect. In this Policy statement we suggest national strategies based on both horizontal and vertical objectives to raise the voice of children



In this Policy Statement we discuss the need of social cooperation. The narratives on migration as a threat to societal survival, on the one hand, and as an enabler of societal renewal, on the other, show the importance of the existence of a democratic public sphere which can expose irrationality and prejudice in various arguments by persistent appeals to justice and reason. Narratives on migration are necessarily conditioned, circumscribed and shaped by both ideologies and historical contexts and, by ensuring that there exists a level telling field, well-informed policies and sustainable solutions can be appropriately devised. Instead of societal survival, it is more accurate to refer to societal renewal and processes of change in social relations particularly since the latter ensure the continuity of societies in the long run. Instead of the mandatory integration of new-comers, it might be better to talk about the inclusion and equal participation of all residents. It is true, one cannot legislate away prejudice. But, instead of divisions between ingroups and outgroups, it is advisable for political communities to promote an ethic of listening, respect for human dignity and fundamental rights, to acknowledge the inevitability of the fluidity of society and to seek to transform differences, tensions and conflicts into creative communal conversations.



In this Policy Statement we give five policy recommendations to articulate a fairer narrative on migration and integration. As stated in ‘Migration and Narrative: Key Terms and Concepts’, ‘integration policies, and the demands made by states for (better) integration of migrants, often fall short of treating migrants as full members of, and equal participants, in the community’. This presupposes not only the promotion of intercultural under-standing, but also the creation of a public arena which subscribes to the principles of a ‘level telling field’. A level telling field is open to all participants and permits the sharing of experiences, rights claims, arguments and perspective with a view to designing policies and strategies that are fair and respectful of the values of the European Union, such as, respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.


Newsletter 10. The right to be mobile

In this newsletter you find the minutes with pictures of the consortium meeting of Dakar, February 2023


Policy brief: The right to Mobility

The Policy Brief on the Right to Mobility is a summary of discussions and conversations OPPORTUNITIES held in Dakar with NGOs and policy makers. 

The right to mobility is an essential component of a fair development policy based on prevention through investment in African countries and on regular migration. Social policies are needed to stop irregular migration.