The role of information provision in migration governance: Informing to dissuade?

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from: 15:00
to: 16:15

Information campaigns by government actors for (potential) migrants before their arrival have become increasingly common initiatives in the last years. The effectiveness of such governmental information provision to prevent irregular migration is currently debated.

This webinar focuses on information campaigns beyond the question of effectiveness. Critically assessing their contents and role within current migration governance approaches, we discuss the communicative and affective implications of risk-focused messages in such campaigns, consider the ethical questions they potentially raise, and ask how prevention and dissuasion strategies fit into current (European) border regimes.


Digital information campaigns for (potential) migrants from a perspective of government communication, Verena K. Brändle (Visiting Fellow, MPC/ Senior Research Fellow, University of Vienna)

Since the so-called ‘migration crisis’ in 2015/16, EU governments’ efforts to launch online campaigns to inform potential migrants about the risks of irregularity have increased. These migration management tools often appear to serve humanitarian purposes, while aiming at dissuading migration. This paper investigates such campaigns through the lens of government communication, a so far under-explored issue in migration studies. Applying qualitative content analysis to two larger European campaigns, this research finds that the campaigns reiterate immigration policies instead of providing migrants with crucial information. They therefore raise critical questions regarding the principles of neutrality and reliability in democratic government communication.


Public Information Campaigns, Affective Governmentality, and The Family, Jill M. Williams, University of Arizona

Drawing on a large-scale study of the use of public-information campaigns (PICs) by the US and Australian governments, this paper examines the how ‘the family’ is strategically mobilized in PICs and the implications these framings have.  We argue that PICs function as a form of affective governmentality, working to tether potential migrants to place and render them immobile through the strategic circulation of family-based narratives and images grounded in grief, shame, and familial responsibility.  In doing so, these PICs obscure the geopolitical and geoeconomic complexities undergirding transnational migration by rendering migration-related decisions as individual and familial decisions.  This analysis raises a number of ethical and practical questions regarding the use of familial narratives and images in PICs.


Information campaigns between control and communication, Antoine Pécoud, Professor of Sociology, University of Sorbonne Paris Nord

Information campaigns illustrate a communicative turn in migration control. Their objective is not to coerce migrants’ mobility, but to inform/communicate about migration and migration control. Their relationship to control is ambivalent: on the one hand, some campaigns showcase control, to warn pre-migrants of what awaits them; on the other hand, other campaigns present migration as ‘naturally’ dangerous, thereby silencing the role of receiving states in making migration risky. This raises the issue of the relationship between communication and control. As they are embedded in a control-oriented context, information campaigns do not sincerely engage in a communication exchange (as pre-migrants who disregard their message will be coercively dissuaded from migrating anyway) and amount to a kind of propaganda. But in order to reach their audience, information campaigns must nevertheless propose a set of arguments to explain why migration is an unattractive option: this implies developing rational/normative arguments, which can then be opposed in what becomes a more genuine communication process; in addition, these rational/normative arguments are all the more necessary because information campaigns also speak to other audiences (like the public opinion) to increase the acceptability of migration control.


Chair: Leila Hadj Abdou, MPC, EUI an University of Vienna.