The PERCEPTIONS partners have completed their first iteration of fieldwork with migrants, first-line practitioners, and policymakers regarding the impact of perceptions of Europe on migration decisions. First results have been published in a report. Complementing the fieldwork, an analysis of narratives shared via social media and traditional mass media is in progress.
Despite delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the PERCEPTIONS partners have successfully completed fieldwork with migrants and experts (policymakers, first-line practitioners, and decision-makers in CSOs and NGOs). Aiming to gain insights on the formation of perceptions, the transmission of narratives through different channels, and intersecting aspects of individual and societal security, both qualitative and quantitative research has been conducted.
A stakeholder survey with a total of 788 responses, 100 interviews with migrants and refugees, 71 interviews with practitioners and Law Enforcement Agents (LEAs), and 188 interviews with policymakers and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) were carried out, resulting in a rich database for the project. The fieldwork covers multiple countries across Europe and Africa.
In parallel to this, the consortium has started an analysis of social media and mass media, aiming to gain insights into how narratives are created online, how they are disseminated via different channels, and what role different actors play within a network of actors.
Migration to the EU: a survey of first-line practitioners’ perceptions during the COVID-19 pandemic A report published on the PERCEPTIONS website presents main insights of a survey with first-line practitioners, conducted between October and December 2020 . Identified as an understudied group in migration-related research , this report addresses the gap in the state of the art.
The survey explored the perceptions of Europe that first-line practitioners observe among migrants. Furthermore, it tackles the question how practitioners believe inaccurate information may influence migration, and how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their work. Among other things, we found that first-line practitioners overwhelmingly considered external factors such as violence, political situation, or different levels of opportunity, as well as negative conditions in the country of origin, to be the main drivers of migration. Practitioners from transit countries such as Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia consider person-specific threats in the country of origin to be especially important in motivating migration. Furthermore, practitioners agreed that migrants have, in general, a positive idea of Europe. This idea, practitioners also agree, is moderately correct. Overall, practitioners believed that migrants who took decisions based on inaccurate information are more likely to encounter threats such as use of dangerous routes or human smugglers, yet they are not likely to pose a threat to host societies, e.g. via crime or radicalisation.
The highlights of the survey can be found in the report published online.
PERCEPTIONS at international conferences & events
PERCEPTIONS partners have presented relevant outcomes of their research in multiple events, including the following:
- ACM CHI Virtual Conference on Human Factors in Information Systems. At the 2021 ACM CHI Virtual Conference on Human Factors in Information Systems which took place from 7 to 13 May 2021, members of the University of Northumbria at Newcastle presented the research and studies conducted in the PERCEPTIONS project;
- IMISCOE Annual Conference. At the IMISCOE Annual Conference in July 2021, PERCEPTIONS partners organised two panels focused on migrants’ perceptions of the EU – Imaginary, political and symbolic management across Europe and beyond. At the conference, partners explored the link between migration and culture by asking how migration is experienced, mediated and reflected in general and through daily cultural, linguistic and artistic activities;
- European Sociological Association (ESA) Conference. The annual ESA conference, held online from 31 August to 3 September 2021, was aimed at disseminating the Italian results of the T3.2 survey conducted by the University of Bologna. The perceptions of 120 Italian front-line operators on the impact of COVID-19 on their work and on the lives of migrants were discussed to highlight some of the paradoxes of the Italy Relaunch Decree, which set out the regularization of migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic;
- European Researchers’ Night. During the European Researchers’ Night on 24 September 2021, researchers at the University of Granada presented their latest results of the work they are conducting for the PERCEPTIONS project. In the context of the city of Melilla in Spain, the team from the University of Granada had the opportunity to raise awareness among university students and professors on issues relating to immigration and the perception of Europe in foreign countries.
 García-Carmona, M., García-Quero, F., Guardiola, J., Moya Fernández, P., Ollero Perán, J., Edwards, J., and Whitworth, B. (2021) Migration to the EU: a survey of first line practitioners’ perceptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. PERCEPTIONS project (Grant Agreement No 833870). Available online.
 Bayerl, S., Pannocchia, D., & Hough, K. (2019). Secondary analysis of studies, projects, and narratives. Deliverable D2.2. PERCEPTIONS project No. 833870. Available online.
Perceptions, narratives, migration, imaginaries, Europe, EU, migrants, practitioners, policymakers, conference