logo

Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

logo

Why the refugee crisis is not a refugee crisis

Javier Alcalde

The term “refugee crisis” is still the expression most often used to refer to the increase in the number of people that have been coming to the European Union in recent times seeking asylum. Oftentimes, when we hear or read it, we know instinctively that we do not like it, but we may not be able to explain exactly why not. There are many complementary answers: some of the criticisms focus on the word “crisis” ; others, on the concept of “refugee”; others still, on the combination of the two words; and others, on the absence of alternative words that explicitly state the causes and those responsible for this situation.

Picture description
Type: Journal Article
Year: 2016

In the context of the European research project “Collective action and the refugee crisis”, I have spent several months interviewing activists who work on the denunciation , solidarity and support of migrants and refugees. Even though they do not all share the same analysis of the causes and solutions, there is one point on which they unanimously agree: the refugee crisis is not actually a crisis of refugees. This term, popularized by the media in the spring and summer of 2015, is still the expression most often used to refer to the increase in the number of people that have been coming to the European Union in recent times seeking asylum. Since then, the vast majority of stakeholders, including politicians, NGOs, international organizations , journalists and university professors in a variety of disciplines have used the expression again and again. And they continue to do so. Oftentimes, when we hear or read it, we know instinctively that we do not like it, but we may not be able to explain exactly why not. As we shall see, there are many complementary answers. Some of the criticisms focus on the word “crisis” ; others, on the concept of “refugee”; others still, on the combination of the two words; and others, on the absence of alternative words that explicitly state the causes and those responsible for this situation.

Javier Alcalde, 2016, "Why the refugee crisis is not a refugee crisis". Peace in Progress 29. Special issue ‘Refugees Welcome’

http://www.icip-perlapau.cat/numero29/articles_centrals/article_central_2/

News

19/12/2017

10 Fully funded 4-years PhD positions in Political Science and Sociology, for the AA. 2018/2019, Scuola Normale Superiore

alt
The grant is for 4 years. it is open to students of all nationalities. Coverage of research expenses (conferences, summer schools, research periods abroads) is provided.

13/12/2017

Call for Paper: Conference “1968-2018, fifty years after: Where is the social movements field going?”

alt
Taking the 1968 anniversary as a stimulating moment for reflection, this conference seeks to provide space for looking at the implications of that period on social movement research as well as addressing a number of key questions in current social movement research.

04/12/2017

Martin Portos Garcia wins the ISA's Seventh Worldwide Competition for Junior Sociologists

alt
The International Sociological Association has just announced the list of the winners of the Seventh Worldwide Competition for Junior Sociologists engaged in social research, amongst which Martin Portos Garcia - post-doc fellow at COSMOS

Publications

Journal Article - 2017

Repertoires of knowledge practices: Social movements in times of crisis

Donatella della Porta and Elena Pavan
Starting from the assumption that knowledge becomes all the more important for movements in times of crisis, as old structures are challenged and new ones envisaged and proved feasible, the purpose of this paper is to suggest ways to expand the toolkit of social movement studies in order to empirically address knowledge practices as a meaningful part of contemporary progressive activism.

Journal Article - 2017

Keeping dissent alive under the Great Recession: no-radicalisation and protest in Spain after the eventful 15M/indignados campaign

Martín Portos
Traditional theories of collective action would predict that, after a triggering event, the trajectory of a wave of protest is determined by the institutionalisation–radicalisation tandem. Based on the Spanish cycle of anti-austerity and against the political status quo protest in the shadow of the Great Recession, this article contends with this approach, as a clear trend towards radicalisation is never observed as the cycle unfolds. An alternative interpretative framework is developed to understand protest trajectories when collaborative inter-organisational strategies prevail.