The Gendered Representation of Refugees Using Visual Frames in the Main Western European Media

Publication TypeJournal Article
Año de publicación2020
AuthorsAmores, JJ, Arcila-Calderón, C, González-de-Garay, B
JournalGender Issues
Fecha de publicación01-2020
Keywordsframing, Gender, gender studies, migration, migration crisis, refugees, visual framing

In this paper we content analysed the way female refugees are depicted in 500 journalistic photographs published between 2013 and 2017 on ten of the news digital media with the greatest public impact from five of the Western European countries most affected by the wave of migration during the refugee crisis (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom). The most representative media of western culture and with an international projection were selected. We tested from the visual framing theory if women were underrepresented in these main European media, if they were associated to religious symbols more frequently than male refugees, and if they were depicted connotatively in a different way than male refugees. We found that, indeed, there was an underrepresentation of female refugees in the photographs of the analysed European media, and female refugees were more frequently associated with religious symbols than male. Moreover, female refugees were more frequently depicted as victims compared to male, while male refugees were more frequently depicted in burden or threat frames compared to female, so that in a more negative but also more active way. This means that, both through the under-representation and through the way in which they are represented in the European media photographs, female refugees are being associated with a passive and secondary role. European media are contributing to reinforce the so-called “symbolic annihilation” of women by condescendingly showing female refugee as an inoffensive, vulnerable, and submissive subject.