A major purpose of this study is to describe and analyse representations of migration and migrants in three local Swedish newspapers, Arbetarbladet, Borås Tidning, and Vestmanlands Läns Tidning and one national, Dagens Nyheter, at eight selected years during the period of 1945 – 2005. The dissertation investigates continuity and change over the course of time. The study also traces how journalistic discourses relate to migration policies. The main focus is on the local papers and the interplay between local and national perspectives in expressing estrangement and national community. The main sample consists of 1 537 articles published in the first three weeks of March in the years 1945, 1955, 1965, 1975, 1985, 1995 and the year 2000.
Quantitative and qualitative approaches are combined and the study is carried out within the traditions of Critical Discourse Analysis and rhetoric. One theoretical approach rests on the notion of the stranger, as conceptualized by Georg Simmel. Closely linked to this notion are the concepts of nation, culture, and identity. One purpose is to analyse how these aspects are textualised and visualised.
Despite the changes of migration to Sweden, press coverage has demonstrated a remarkable consistency in the representations of immigrants and migration policy throughout the period. The analyses indicate that there is a continuous dialogue between the press and the government agenda. Albeit the consonance between the papers, it needs to be pointed out that representations of strangers are heterogeneous. In certain respects the local papers differ from the national paper. The Dagens Nyheter was more inclined to use a negative and a conflict angle. The local papers, promoting strong place identities, were more prone to stress co-operation and shared interests. The portrayal often draws on an implicit positive self-representation of Sweden. Nationhood is still a resonant element in journalism, a late echo, as it were, of the People’s Home.