Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 27 Issue 2 (March/April 2017), Pages 97-178

The Humanisation of Refugees: A Discourse Analysis of UK Parliamentary Debates on the European Refugee ‘Crisis’ (pages 115-125)


Previous research has explored the ‘othering’ and dehumanisation of asylum seekers and refugees, yet comparatively little research has explored the opposite process: the humanisation of refugees. This article applies discursive psychological analysis to the transcripts of five UK Parliamentary debates on the European refugee ‘crisis’ from September 2015 to January 2016, examining an explicit form of humanisation: categorising refugees as ‘human beings’. The analysis focuses on the nature and function of such categorisations to explore the social functions of the discourse. It illustrates how politicians draw on the human qualities of both refugees and ‘us’ to make the government and nation morally accountable for protecting refugees. Moreover, it shows how the humanisation or dehumanisation of others implicates or denies the self as morally responsible. This highlights how research on dehumanisation—and the opposite process of humanisation—needs to attend to the rhetorical, relational and dialogical aspects of discourse. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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