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The changing political impact of compassion-evoking pictures: the case of the drowned toddler Alan Kurdi

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Jacob Sohlberg
Peter Esaiasson
Johan Martinsson
Publicerad i Journal of ethnic and migration studies
Volym 45
Nummer/häfte 13
Sidor 2275-2288
ISSN 1369-183X
Publiceringsår 2019
Publicerad vid Statsvetenskapliga institutionen
Sidor 2275-2288
Språk en
Länkar https://app.dimensions.ai/details/p...
https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.20...
Ämneskategorier Statsvetenskap (exklusive studier av offentlig förvaltning och globaliseringsstudier)

Sammanfattning

Compassion-evoking and widely circulated news images seem capable of affecting public opinion and change history. A case in point is the picture of the drowned toddler Alan Kurdi, who died while trying to escape to Europe with his family in September 2015. We theorise how these types of photos affect public opinion. By relying on panel data with sequentially embedded survey experiments conducted in the aftermath of the picture’s publication and while large numbers of refugees were coming to Europe, we demonstrate that the image of Alan Kurdi had context-varying effects on policy preferences. Initially, the upsetting photo of the toddler increased support for liberal refugee policies across ideological divides. However, when individuals had the time to think about policy implications, they started processing even this highly upsetting picture through their ideology. Consequently, our results indicate that compassion-evoking images shift meaning over time.

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