Human Interest Stories in the Coverage of Syrian Refugees: A Case Study from Turkey

Keywords Syrian refugees, Turkey, Media Frames, human interest, weaponization
Keywords Syrian refugees, Turkey, Media Frames, human interest, weaponization


This paper investigates the forms of representation of Syrian refugees in Zaman newspaper, a Turkish daily that was associated with the Gülen movement, between 2011–2015. The argument focuses on human interest stories in search for alternative forms of representation from the victimization and collectivization that are emphasized in the literature. Based on open coding of 209 news articles that were identified through frame analysis, the analysis shows that the coverage included contradictory strategies of victimization and humanization. The contradictory strategies are understood as a form of inclusive othering that encompass the initial desire to attribute human qualities to the refugees and subsequent attempt to victimize them. As the newspaper was party to a larger political conflict within Turkey, we understand the contradictory strategies and especially the specific shift in representation as part of the process of politicization. The analysis concludes that politicization limits attempts to humanize refugees.

Author Biographies

Dalia Abdelhady, Lund University

Dalia Abdelhady is Associate Professor in Sociology at Lund University in Sweden. Her work features the application of postcolonial analysis to the sociology of migration. Following a comparative perspective, her work focuses on the meeting point between individual immigrants (and their communities) and institutions in receiving countries (such as schools, labor markets, media and political policies). She is the author of The Lebanese Diaspora: The Arab Immigrant Experiences in Montreal, New York and Paris (New York University Press, 2011), and co-editor ofRefugees and the Violence of Welfare Bureaucracies in Northern Europe (Manchester University Press, 2020) and The Routledge Handbook of Middle East Diasporas (Routledge, 2022).

Fatmanur Delioglu, Yildiz Technical University

Fatmanur Delioğlu completed her BA in Political Science and International Relations at the Yildiz Technical University in 2016 with a dissertation titled "Syrian Refugee Women: The Case of Fatih District in Istanbul." Delioğlu earned her MA in Political Science and International Relations from Marmara University & Istanbul Sehir University with her masters thesis "Syrian Refugee Women’s Solidarity Networks Through Kitchens." She has worked as an intern researcher at institutions including the Gender and Diversity Institute in Kiel, Germany (2016); the Istanbul Policy Center (2019); and the Migration Research Center at Koç University (MiReKoc) (2019 Summer Term). Delioğlu also participated in a research project analyzing Turkish media coverage of Syrian refugees at Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University (2018). She took part as a researcher in a TÜBİTAK project on place attachment and belonging in 2020. Delioğlu is currently a PhD student at Yildiz Technical University in the Department of Political Science and International Relations. Her research interests include integration policies, refugee solidarity networks, gender, social cohesion, and the role of non-governmental organizations in constructing social peace.


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