Social Construction of Syrian Refugees in Daily Speech in Turkey: Interpretative Repertoires and Social Media

Author/s: ,

DOI: 10.12738/mejrs.2016.1.1.0004

Year: 2016 Vol: 1 Number: 1


In this study, various ways of describing Syrian refugees as used by a specific group of social media users who identify themselves as “dictionary writers” have been studied through critical discursive psychology and interpretative repertoires. Ekşi and Uludağ collaborative dictionaries, which are the most popular online dictionary sites in Turkey, were used as a database in the process of collecting data, giving the opportunity to reach various discursive repertoires. One hundred web pages from Ekşi Dictionary (10 entries per page, a total of 1000 entries) were analyzed. Fourteen web pages from Uludağ Dictionary (25 entries per page except for five entries on the last page, a total of 330 entries) were also analyzed. When quoting extracts from the collaborative dictionaries, the page count was taken into consideration, thus more extracts were taken from Ekşi Dictionary. Extracts were analyzed using the critical discursive approach. As a result of this research, seven different repertoires were defined. First of all is the repertoire of “threat,” in which Syrian asylum seekers are constructed as a threat in two forms: while the asylum seeker is the primary threat in its first form, they are seen as the tool of the primary threat in its second form. According to the repertoire of “othering,” Syrian asylum seekers are “otherized” through subjection to humiliation, marginalization, and dehumanization. In the repertoire of “Muslim,” Syrian asylum seekers are defined with a supra-identity as a Muslim beyond national identities, positioning the dictionary writer on similar ground with the asylum seeker. In the repertoire of “empathy,” the refugees are the subject of statements regarding humanity as the common ground. In the repertoire of “normative refugee” an absolute refugee frame is sketched, discussing whether a Syrian refugee fills this frame or not and how they fit in. According to the repertoire of “administration problem,” the inadequate policies of government in relation to the current situation are held responsible and the refugees are identified as victims of governmental policies. Finally, in the seventh repertoire, which can be referred to as “economic burden,” the refugees are described as a burden on the economic system; they are given shelter and care but are also unwanted by the Turkish people.

Critical Discursive Psychology, Interpretative repertoires, Social media, Asylum seeker

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