Unlawful, Un-cooperative and Unwanted: The Dehumanization of Asylum Seekers in the Australian Newsprint Media

  • Martha Augoustinos
  • Clemence Due
  • Peta Callaghan
Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS)


Recent international crises such as the war in Syria have led to the displacement of unprecedented numbers of people seeking refuge in western liberal democratic nations in Europe and elsewhere. The response by western governments and their citizens to those seeking asylum and refuge has been polarized, making their resettlement a highly politicized issue that has divided host communities. The politics of border control and the treatment of asylum seekers have dominated Australian domestic politics since 2001. Since then, asylum seekers arriving by boat have been represented in the public domain as threatening to Australia’s sovereignty, security, and culture in ways that have recently been evidenced in Europe by the Syrian crisis. Using the theoretical and analytic tools of discursive psychology this chapter specifically focuses on how asylum seekers are routinely dehumanized in newsprint articles reporting on boat arrivals to Australia and discusses the implications these practices of dehumanization have for how asylum seekers are positioned in public discourse. We argue that these dehumanizing practices not only contribute to the social exclusion or ‘othering’ of asylum seekers; they also facilitate and legitimate acts of force and violence to control and restrict their mobility, positioning them as potential ‘enemies’ of the nation state.


Asylum seekers Dehumanization Discursive psychology Peace psychology Refugees 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martha Augoustinos
    • 1
  • Clemence Due
    • 1
  • Peta Callaghan
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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