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Back to 2014_03_26_ICS_Los términos que se usan en los discursos públicos pueden ser una barrera para la integración de los migrantes

Terms used in public speeches can be a barrier to the integration of migrants

A researcher of the project 'Public discourse' analyzes in a work the metalinguistic articulation and political awareness in discourses on integration.

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PHOTO: Carlota Cortés
26/03/14 11:11 Carlota Cortés

Jan Zienkowski, researcher of the project 'Public discourse' of the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) of the University of Navarra, has analyzed in a scientific article the Public discourse and political consciousness in the example of minorities in the Flemish region of Belgium, paying particular attention to the autochthonous-autochthonous pair(allochthnon). This second term was born between the late 1970s and early 1980s and spread rapidly among academics, politicians and citizens. "It is so common in Belgium that most people don't reflect on it," he stresses.

According to the Belgian Central Bureau of Statistics, allochthnon means any person living in the Netherlands, at least one of whose parents is a foreigner. "On the internship it is used to allude to a specific group of migrants who identify themselves as Muslims, or people who look Muslim even if they don't practice the religion," he explains.

The word emerged as a euphemism to replace the concept of migrants , which had acquired negative overtones - criminality, poverty, violence... - and spread in the media. "The connotations of the term migrants," he stresses, "are now also found in allochthon. It generates problems because this notion creates a second class of citizens".  

Social impact of the research

As the article, cultural differences tend to be seen in the Public discourse as the factor that creates the economic disadvantages of the allochthons.

"The rejection of cultural diversity is a dominant way of thinking," Zienkowski notes. This is taken to the extreme in neo-Racist ideologies: "The underlying rationale is that such differences stand in the way of integration.

However, he notes that the discussion is on the rise and there are some small signs of change. As an example, he mentions that in September 2012 the Flemish newspaper De Morgen announced via a publishing house that it was abandoning the use of the"allochthon-autochtoin" pair in its articles. And in March 2013, the city of Ghent, capital of the province of East Flance, organized a symbolic burning of the two words. For its part, the public administration no longer uses those words in its public policies.

Finally, Jan Zienkowski is committed to rethinking the social impact of research such as this "so that it can be introduced into the public sphere and have a social impact".