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Romaphobia in the Age of Populism: A Study of UK and Swedish Media and Political Discourse

Project description

Revealing anti-Roma sentiment in media and politics

Roma in Europe suffer from widespread and persisting anti-Gypsyism – recognised as a specific form of racism fuelled by prejudice and stereotypes. They are the victims of various forms of discrimination – from school segregation to mandatory sedentarisation. In the context of growing populism in Europe, the EU-funded ROMAPHOBIA project will focus on the racism and xenophobia toward the Roma in the news media and political discourse in the UK and Sweden in 2016. Specifically, it will investigate how and why Romaphobia becomes particularly widespread in times of socio-political crisis and how it is communicated across media platforms. The findings will support the implementation of policies and interventions tackling inequalities faced by Roma.


This project will investigate contemporary expressions of racism and xenophobia toward the Roma in the context of the growing populism in Europe. It focuses on two specific contexts, the UK and Sweden, examining how and why Romaphobia becomes particularly widespread in times of socio-political crisis and how it is communicated across media platforms. The project will make a valuable contribution to understanding how Romaphobia in media and political discourse is discursively constructed—often in ways which are easily manageable and deniable by those who disseminate racist discourses. This project combines content analysis and multimodal critical discourse analysis (MCDA) in two empirical studies (1) an examination of UK news media, YouTube, and political discourse on Roma migrants during 2016 when the UK voted to exit the European Union and (2) an examination of the most influential Swedish editorials and political opinions on Twitter on the controversial ban on begging in Sweden, following 2016, prior and after the Swedish electoral elections. The project is extremely timely and relevant, if one looks at the current treatment of the Roma in Europe. Despite the significant efforts from European Commission and human rights groups to combat racism and discrimination, most European Roma live on the edge of poverty and are regularly subjected to violence and social exclusion—actions which became more routinised and are little or infrequently articulated in media and political discourse. In addition to contributing to the academic knowledge on discourse and racism, the proposed project will be instrumental for independent media bodies in raising awareness for the kind of concealed forms of racism that have dominated the public discourse. Such critically oriented research is vital for policy makers in designing and implementing more effective legislation to eradicate, even if partially, the discrimination and inequalities experienced by Roma in Europe.


Net EU contribution
€ 212 933,76
LE11 3TU Loughborough
United Kingdom

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East Midlands (England) Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire Leicestershire CC and Rutland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 212 933,76