Speaking for Ourselves

Migration and the media: The impact of the debate

Migration and the media: The impact of the debate


 Migrant Voice - Migration and the media: The impact of the debate

Immigration has been one of the most controversial topics in British politics and society for many years. Surveys and studies of public opinion have often recorded immigration and immigrant integration as dominant concerns in the UK, describing British voters as ‘broadly negative about immigration for decades’ (APPGM 2011). Immigration is a hugely complex issue often eliciting a wide range of views and strong positions on topics including identity, ethnicity, religion, employment, welfare, education, housing and many others. Yet what is missing from the noise and the fear is the perspective of migrants themselves. There are 7.8 million people in the UK who were born overseas but they are largely under-represented in mainstream British media. In fact, our previous research revealed that migrants’ voices were quoted in only 12% of all articles focusing on migration between January and April 2014.

In this context we wanted to hear from the migrants in Britain today, to uncover what they say about the consequences that the current immigration debate has for them and their sense of belonging. With immigration dominating the political agenda in the run up to the May 2015 general election, we saw this as an urgent task.

Read the December 2014 report here.

Our conclusions were these:

It is clear from the findings of this research that the migration debate in the UK is not considered inclusive by migrants who feel that their voices and experiences are largely absent or misrepresented. Yet this debate affects the lives of migrants in many ways. The biggest impact of the debate on migrants is on their sense of belonging. The majority of participants feel that they belong and are integrated within their local communities. But the debate impacts negatively on their sense of belonging to the country: they do not feel wanted or accepted. 

It is also clear that political and media debates on migration both create anxiety among migrants and also have the potential to undermine trust between migrants and the communities in which they live. 

This, in turn, can lead to an increase in negative feelings amongst some migrants towards members of the host community. The majority of participants consider that migrants are being scapegoated and used by politicians for their own electoral gains. Most importantly migrants do not consider that there is a debate on migration in the UK. This is because a debate requires different sides of an argument to be presented and heard. 

Migrant Voice will continue works to strengthen the voice, participation and representation of migrants in the media to encourage more balanced, well-informed and inclusive debate on migration.


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Migrant Voice
VAI, 200a Pentonville Road,
N1 9JP

Phone: +44 (0) 207 832 5824
Email: [email protected]

Registered Charity
Number: 1142963 (England and Wales); SC050970 (Scotland)

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