At the end of 2018, more than 68.5 million people were displaced from their homes. Of these displaced persons, 22.5 million of these people were forced to leave their homes and find safety in another country. These people are known globally as refugees. Many of these refugees in recent years have fled to Western countries in Europe and North America. This immigration and the general subject of refugees and their integration into their host countries have recently been a large subject for media. Many of these refugees came from countries and cultures that may carry stigmatic backgrounds including Middle Eastern and African countries. For decades, media portrayals in entertainment, social, media, and news media have shown people from these countries in certain ways that may conflict with truthful characteristics of people from these cultures. The purpose of this study is to help better understand how refugees personal assimilation experiences compare to information distributed by the media. Through researching existing studies of media portrayals of refugees and Muslims through the lens of framing theory readers can better understand what information is distributed in Western cultures about refugees. Then, through conducting in-depth interviews with refugees hosted in Europe and the United States, seeking understanding of refugees personal stories, life experiences, and their perceptions of media representations of people of their same refugee status, readers may additionally better understand any differences in the portrayal of refugees and the experiences had by refugees themselves. Using grounded theory, poignant themes emerged from the interviews to explain how interviewed refugees lives are similar or differ and are affected by Western media portrayals. Emergent themes indicated that primarily polarized news accounts may interfere with refugee acculturation by making social and cultural connections difficult, discrepancies in qualifications, and issues with misunderstanding refugees lack of mobility. Additionally, refugee sentiments about refugee media portrayals and acculturation were evaluated to better understand how the media affects their assimilation processes.



College and Department

Fine Arts and Communications; Communications

Date Submitted


Document Type





refugees, assimilation, acculturation, framing, media portrayals



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Fine Arts Commons