Dr. Alina Dolea, member of BU Centre for Comparative Politics and Media Research, published open access together with Prof. Diana Ingenhoff from University of Fribourg (Switzerland) and Dr. Anabella Beju from Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu (Romania) the article “Country images and identities in times of populism: Swiss media discourses on the ‘stop mass immigration’ initiative” in International Communication Gazzette: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1748048520913462
The research was carried out during Dr. Dolea’s SCIEX postdoctoral fellowship at University of Fribourg and funded through the SCIEX competitive grant “Discourses on country image promotion and identity in Western and Eastern Europe. A comparative study on Switzerland and Romania (DiCoPro)”. The Scientific Exchange Programme (Sciex-NMSch) was part of the Swiss Contribution to the New Member States (NMS) of the European Union.
The article shows country images are instrumentalized in public debates beyond strategic communication contexts and practices. The authors innovatively linked studies on country images and identities with migration and populism as communication phenomenon and ideology discursively articulated by political and media actors. They used Critical Discourse Analysis to show how media construct, re-construct and mobilize various representations and descriptors of Switzerland (as a country, as a state or as a nation) in the debates following the 2014 Swiss referendum on “stop mass immigration initiative”. Projecting fictitious scenarios, fear and uncertainty, media have ultimately constructed Switzerland’s image through a populist type of discourse, reproducing the populist ideology of dividing society into polarized categories through strategies of inclusion and exclusion.
This is a great example of multidisciplinary research carried out within the International Communication Association, as authors linked streams of critical research emerging within the Public Diplomacy Interest Group with more established research on populism within the Political Communication Division.