Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Framing Immigration in the Canadian and British News Media

  • Andrea Lawlor (a1)

Despite an extensive dialogue on the subject of immigration, there has been little systematic cross-national investigation into the framing of immigration in the news media. Understanding the evolution of frames is an important piece of how we conceive of the link between the public's political priorities and policy makers’ responses. While the multi-directional relationships that exist between media, public policy and public opinion often pose challenges to precisely extracting media effects, there is still much that can be said about how the content and tone of immigration frames change over time in response to major policy changes or focusing events. Using automated content analysis (ACA) of print news data from Canada and Britain, I examine immigration framing from 1999 to 2013, identifying immigration-related frames in print news coverage and identifying trends in the volume and tone of frames over time. Results offer insight into striking commonalities in the frames used by each country's print media, and the divergent evolution in the emphasis on certain frames over others, largely predicated on coverage of focusing events.


Malgré un dialogue expansif au sujet de l'immigration, il y a eu jusqu'ici peu de recherche transnationale systématique sur le cadrage de l'immigration dans les médias. Comprendre l'évolution des cadres est un point essentiel de la manière dont on conçoit le lien entre les priorités politiques du public et les réponses des décideurs. Bien que les relations multidirectionnelles existant entre médias, politiques publiques et opinion publique représentent un défi pour discerner les effets des médias, il reste encore beaucoup à dire sur la manière dont le contenu et le ton des cadres de l'immigration évoluent dans le temps, en réponse aux changements majeurs de politiques ou événements politiques. En utilisant une analyse de contenu automatisée (ACA) de la presse écrite canadienne et britannique, j'examine le cadrage de l'immigration de 1999 à 2013, en identifiant les cadres reliés à l'immigration dans la couverture médiatique de la presse écrite ainsi que les tendances dans le volume et le ton de ces cadres à travers le temps. Les résultats offrent un aperçu des points communs frappants dans les cadres utilisés par la presse écrite des deux pays, mais aussi de l'évolution divergente dans l'emphase de certains cadres par rapport à d'autres, largement fondé sur la couverture d'événements politiques.

Corresponding author
King's University College, Western University, 266 Epworth Ave., London ON, N6A 2M3, Email:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Y. Abu-Laban and J. A. Garber . 2005. “The Construction of the Geography of Immigration as a Policy Problem the United States and Canada Compared.” Urban Affairs Review 40 (4): 520–61.

Rodney Benson . 2010. “What Makes for a Critical Press? A Case Study of French and US Immigration News Coverage.” The International Journal of Press/Politics 15 (1): 324.

Rodney Benson . 2013. Shaping Immigration News. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rodney Benson , Mark Blach-Ørsten , Matthew Powers , Ida Willig and Sandra Vera Zambrano . 2012. “Media Systems Online and Off: Comparing the Form of News in the United States, Denmark, and France.” Journal of Communication 62 (1): 2138.

Erik Bleich . 2003. Race Politics in Britain and France: Ideas and Policymaking since the 1960s. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Christina Boswell , Andrew Geddes and Peter Scholten . 2011. “The Role of Narratives in Migration Policy-Making: A Research Framework.” The British Journal of Politics & International Relations 13 (1): 111.

Jules Boykoff . 2006. “Framing Dissent: Mass-Media Coverage of the Global Justice Movement.” New Political Science 28 (2): 201–28.

Kalina M. Brabeck , M. Brinton Lykes and Rachel Hershberg . 2011. “Framing Immigration to and Deportation from the United States: Guatemalan and Salvadoran Families Make Meaning of Their Experiences.” Community, Work & Family 14 (3): 275–96.

Alessandra Buonfino . 2004. “Between Unity and Plurality: The Politicization and Securitization of the Discourse of Immigration in Europe.” New Political Science 26 (1): 2349.

Jonathan Charteris-Black . 2006. ” Britain as a Container: Immigration Metaphors in the 2005 Election Campaign.” Discourse & Society 17 (5): 563–81.

Dennis Chong and James N. Druckman . 2007b. “A Theory of Framing and Opinion Formation in Competitive Elite Environments.” Journal of Communication 57 (1): 99118.

Stephanie A. Fryberg , Nicole M. Stephens , Rebecca Covarrubias , Hazel Rose Markus , Erin D. Carter , Giselle A. Laiduc and Ana J. Salido . 2012. “How the Media Frames the Immigration Debate: The Critical Role of Location and Politics.” Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 12 (1): 96112.

Josh Grimm and Julie L. Andsager . 2011. “Framing Immigration: Geo-Ethnic Context in California Newspapers.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 88 (4): 771–88.

D.C. Hallin and P. Mancini . 2004. Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Francis Henry and Carol Tator . 2002. Discourses of Domination: Racial Bias in the Canadian English-Language Press. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Jef Huysmans , and Alessandra Buonfino . 2008. “Politics of Exception and Unease: Immigration, Asylum and Terrorism in Parliamentary Debates in the UK.” Political Studies 56 (4): 766–88.

Shanto Iyengar . 1991. Is Anyone Responsible? How Television Frames Political Issues. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Andrea Lawlor . 2015. “Local and National Accounts of Immigration Framing in a Cross-National Perspective.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 41 (6): 918–41.

James W. Pennebaker , Matthias Mehl and Kate G. Niederhoffer . 2003. “Psychological Aspects of Natural Language Use: Our Words, Our Selves.” Annual Review of Psychology 54 (1): 547–77.

Stuart N. Soroka and Elvin T. Lim . 2003. “Issue Definition and the Opinion-Policy Link: Public Preferences and Health Care Spending in the US and UK.” British Journal of Politics and International Relations 5 (4): 576–93.

Lori Young and Stuart N. Soroka . 2012. “Affective News: The Automated Coding of Sentiment in Political Texts.” Political Communication 29 (2): 205–31.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-political-science-revue-canadienne-de-science-politique
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 27
Total number of PDF views: 250 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 536 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th August 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.