Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Post-Truth Politics, Digital Media, and the Politicization of the Global Compact for Migration

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Abstract:  The debate over the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in late 2018 showcases the crucial role of digital and, in particular, social media as vehicles of disinformation that populist actors can exploit in an effort to create resentment and fear in the public sphere. While mainstream political actors and legacy media initially did not address the issue, right-wing populist actors claimed ownership by framing (presumably obligatory) mass immigration as a matter of social, cultural, economic, and not least political risk, and created an image of political and cultural elites conspiring to keep the issue out of the public sphere. Initially advanced via digital and social media, such frames resonated sufficiently strongly in civil society to politicize the GCM in various national public spheres. In this article, these dynamics are explored by comparing the politicization of the GCM in three EU member states, namely Germany, Austria, and Sweden. Using a process-tracing design, the article (a) identifies the key actors in the process, (b) analyzes how the issue emerged in social and other digital media and travelled from digital media into mainstream mass media discourse, and finally (c) draws comparative conclusions from the three analyzed cases. Particular emphasis is placed on the frames used by right-wing populist actors, how these frames resonated in the wider public sphere and thereby generated communicative power against the GCM, ultimately forcing the issue onto the agenda of national public spheres and political institutions.

Keywords:  communicative power; digital media; frame analysis; Global Compact for Migration; populism; public sphere


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© Maximilian Conrad. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.