“In recent years, migration has been a persistent topic of political discussions in Europe. But what are the relevant factors shaping migration? One answer are the constructed narratives and perceptions on a given country. These narratives and perceptions affect destination preferences since they have a powerful influence on how a country of destination is perceived and they transport social as well as individual experiences, hopes and expectations. In the context of migration, they often support collective sense-making of what it means to be a migrant, and they also create beliefs about the possibilities to integrate into a new society or the potential for return. PERCEPTIONS investigates different perceptions and images of the EU to understand how they influence the migration process – and how they could lead to threats and security issues.
PERCEPTIONS is a three-year EU-funded project and brings together an inter- and multidisciplinary consortium of 25 partners from twelve European and three non-European countries. It is the project’s aim to identify the different narratives, images and perceptions of (life in) Europe and the EU, and to study their role in individuals’ decision to migrate to Europe. We consider migration in the broadest sense (i.e. across all potential reasons and motivations) to obtain a better picture where stories about migration to the EU originate, how various types of stories (e.g. about forced vs. economic migration) interconnect, and how they transform over time and with experience. The project also aims to identify the channels in which such narratives and images are spread, including traditional and social media, and the actors who tell these stories – and to whom, with what purpose and with what impact. Therefore, the project will focus on the role of social media in this process, and what kind of images and ideas are transported via different channels. Furthermore, we want to understand how different narratives could lead to problems, false expectations, security threats or even radicalisation.
A series of policies responded to the so-called ‘migration crisis’, based on assumptions about the factors influencing migration. PERCEPTIONS will create evidence-based toolkits of creative and innovative measures for policymakers to react or counteract on different perceptions, considering social, societal and structural aspects. PERCEPTIONS also aims to support first-line practitioners, as well as migrants, and to protect (potential) migrants by creating trusted communication contents and communication channels and by counter-manding “false” and dangerous narratives that may lead to the exploitation of vulnerable groups. The created materials will be published on the PERCEPTIONS web platform.
Project details at a glance