'I certainly don't want people like that here'

the discursive construction of asylum seekers

Alison Saxton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In October 2001, it was alleged that asylum seekers had thrown their children overboard in order to manipulate the Australian Navy to pick them up and take then to Australian territory. In response to this incident, Prime Minister John Howard announced on radio 3LO: 'I certainly don't want people like that here.' (Mares, 2002:135) A discursive approach is adopted in this paper to examine how asylum seekers have been constructed to be 'people like that' in the print media. The analysis demonstrates that asylum seekers have been represented as illegal, non-genuine and threatening in these texts. These representations were employed within nationalist discourse to legitimate the government's actions and public opinion concerning asylum seekers and to manage the delicate issue of national identity. The discursive management of the collective identity of asylum seekers by the dominant culture to construct a specific social reality is discussed and illustrated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-120
Number of pages12
JournalMedia international Australia incorporating culture and policy
Issue number109
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

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