Neutralising punitive asylum seeker policies: An analysis of Australian news media during the 2013 Federal election campaign

Muytjens, Sally & Ball, Matthew (2016) Neutralising punitive asylum seeker policies: An analysis of Australian news media during the 2013 Federal election campaign. Journal of Australian Studies, 40(4), pp. 448-463.

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For almost two decades, negative portrayals of asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat have been dominant within political and media discourses. In particular, asylum seekers have been portrayed as a “dangerous other”—as an illegal group that the public ought to fear and from which they require protection—rather than as a vulnerable group who require protection themselves. This article examines some of the ways in which these discourses make possible public support for punitive policies relating to the treatment of asylum seekers (particularly boat arrivals)—policies that violate many of the human rights instruments to which Australia is a signatory. Specifically, this paper uses Sykes and Matza’s (1957) work on “Techniques of Neutralisation”, which considers the way in which those who knowingly commit illegal, immoral, or harmful acts neutralise their behaviour and disavow its harmful effects, to analyse these dynamics. In particular, it focuses on the political and media discourses regarding asylum seeking produced during the 2013 Australian federal election campaign. The paper argues that these theoretical tools can be effectively applied to this case study and provide some insight into the ongoing punitive treatment of asylum seekers in Australia.

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ID Code: 98701
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Special issue : 'Boat People’: The Long History of Immigration in Australia
Keywords: asylum seekers, techniques of neutralisation, news media, refugees, news media
DOI: 10.1080/14443058.2016.1223153
ISSN: 1444-3058
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Crime & Justice Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: 2016 Taylor & Francis Group
Deposited On: 30 Nov 2016 00:06
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2017 12:01

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