Successful collaboration begins with a shared language, hence the need for a glossary. This joint effort of contributors from several teams ensures, on the one hand, terminological and conceptual coherence across not only our theoretical approaches, but also the qualitative case studies and quantitative research conducted in OPPORTUNITIES. On the other hand, our glossary facilitates communication between the academic side of the project and the fieldwork conducted by NGOs, uniting our teams working from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Senegal.

For more information about the Structure and Objectives of the Glossary, click here...)



According to Amartya Sen (1999, 19), an agent is “someone who acts and brings about change, and whose achievements can be judged in terms of their own values and objectives, whether or not we asses them in terms of some external criteria as well.”

Following Sen’s definition, Cross Talks aim at promoting agency, bringing migrants, NGOs, citizens, and other stakeholders together to speak, perform, listen and act on an equal footing.

In re-enactments, migrants and refugees are recognized as agents by the public; thus they can enter a "fair dialogue" to bring about change.

⇢ see also: Cross Talk, Fair dialogue, Re-enactmentRecognition, Victimization

References and further reading:

Sen, Amartya. 1999. Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Category: B

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8




In national and international law, as well as in official documents of the EU, the term alien refers to “a foreign-born resident who is not a citizen by virtue of parentage or naturalization and who is still a citizen or subject of another country” (qtd. from the entry in the Encyclopædia Britannica). More often than not, the official use of the term also enters the mass media, where it is deployed to depict ‘those who are not from here.’ Thanks to such ‘common’ language usage which extends beyond legal meanings, the term has the power to shape public discourse on migration, thus forming public opinion and attitudes toward migration. For example, alien could then be taken literally as “belonging to another […] place,” being “born in, or owing allegiance to, a foreign country,” or being “of a foreign nature or character” (definition qtd. from the OED).

In a comprehensive review of language and metaphors of immigration used by the courts and judiciary in the U.S., Keith Cunningham-Parmeter (2011) argues that immigration metaphors not only influence judicial matters but also the social discourse and the broader debate on migration: “The theoretical study of language has very practical consequences for the people defined by immigration metaphors.” (1545) Yet such metaphorical language usage is not restricted to English-speaking contexts. In the Netherlands, for instance, the Dutch term allochtoon, which literally means “emerg­ing from another soil” (and thus constitutes the opposite of the word autochtoon, which trans­lates as “emerging from this soil”) has widely been used to refer to immigrants and their descendants (Bpedia 2023, n. p.). The term was introduced by Dutch sociologist Hilda Verwey-Jonker in the early 1970s as a replacement of the terms guest worker or immigrant to reflect the permanent nature of their stay in the Netherlands. Its implied notion of ‘otherness’ (i.e., the notion of belonging to ‘an­other soil’) as well as its metaphoric implications of ‘not being of the same root,’ however, eventually led to the official abandonment of the term (Dutch News 2016).

⇢ see also Attitudes, beliefs, and values, Citizenship

References and further reading: 

Cunningham-Parmeter, Keith. 2011. “Alien Language: Immigration Metaphors and the Jurisprudence of Alien Language: Immigration Metaphors and the Jurisprudence of Otherness.” Fordham Law Review 79.4: 1545–1598.

DBpdedia. 2023. “About: Allochtoon.” DBpdedia. URL:

Dutch News. 2016. “Government Agencies to Stop Using to Stop Using ‘Allochtoon’ to Describe Immigrants.” Dutch News. November 1, 2016. URL:

European Commission. 2020. “Alien.” European Migration Network (EMN) Glossary. URL:

Scholten, Peter. 2013. “The Multilevel Governance of Migrant Integration: A Multilevel Governance Perspective on Dutch Migrant Integration Policies.” In The Discourses and Politics of Migration in Europe, edited by Umut Korkut,, Jonas Hinnfors, and Helen Drake, 151–170. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Category: D

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8




Anti-racism is an umbrella term covering a broad range of grassroots initiatives, activist movements, political interventions, and scientific and scholarly endeavors to understand, challenge, and ultimately overcome racism. Accused of promoting censorship by some, antiracism as “a cluster of political tendencies and actions struggling, at minimum, for a meaningfully pluralistic public sphere” (Titley 2020, 60) is really one of the cornerstones of democracy. Anti-racist debates mirror culture-specific and often national contexts and traditions of dealing with race, racial bias, and racism. In addition, national contexts define how racism is related to anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia in general. In Germany, for instance, racial theory is inextricably linked to the memory of pseudo-scientific justifications of genocide and the Shoah. Hence racial categorization is considered somewhat taboo outside right-wing circles, and racial or ethnic distinctions, for instance in racial profiling or policing, are still highly controversial.

In the OPPORTUNITIES project, all forms of racial, ethnic, or religious bias, as well as the political instrumentalization of bias in the name of “woke” racism (McWorther 2021), are considered as obstacles to level telling fields on migration and integration. A strong stance on anti-racism is needed to challenge traditions and practices which are implicitly normalized by labeling them ‘institutional’ or ‘endemic’ racism. In order to level the telling field, a perspective shift is needed in critical race studies, race and ethnicity studies, and anti-racist discourses in media and communication studies which tend to approach race, racism and anti-racism from a systemic perspective, focusing on public debates, political discourse, and media representations. Such research produces narratives on migration, racism, or anti-racism, observing these phenomena from an etic point of view. OPPORTUNITIES advocates narratives which emerge from the emic perspective of those minorities or communities directly concerned by racist or Islamophobic discourses and practices, like refugees, migrants, and members of diasporic communities. From their perspective, the daily exposure to and potential unavoidability of bias, discrimination, aggression, and, ultimately, violence is a source of constant alertness, anxiety, and fear which is often experienced as a more or less subtle form of terror or even terrorism.

⇢ see also Level Telling Field, Racism, Terrorism

References and further reading:

McWorther, John. 2021. Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America. New York, NY: Portfolio / Penguin.

Titley, Gavan. 2020. Is Free Speech Racist? Cambridge: Polity Press.

Category: C

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8




According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term assimilation literally means “the act of making or becoming like,” “similarity,” or “conversion into a similar substance.” In sociology and migration literature, assimilation is related to the concept of integration, which refers to “the process whereby any minority group, especially a racial one, adapts itself to a majority society and is accorded by the latter equality of rights and treatment [...]” (Bullock et al. 1986, 428). When the process of integration “reaches the point of obliterating the minority’s separate cultural identity,” the term assimilation of the minority into the majority is used (428). In academic discourse, then, framing of integration and assimilation is posed primarily in the context of a ‘minority group’ which integrates and assimilates.

Integration policies, by contrast, often frame integration and assimilation as matters for an individual. A migrant is required, either legally (e.g., through naturalisation) or socially (e.g., through adoption of certain cultural practices, as well as pressure of discrimination and prejudice), to integrate as well as to downplay or relinquish their own social and cultural identity, so as to finally be assimilated during this process. In return, the migrant would usually gain certain rights as a result of integration and assimilation without disturbing the dominant/majority social and cultural order.

However, a migrant community may well be regarded as un-integrated because of maintaining certain cultural beliefs and practices, especially religious ones, that set it apart from the majority society and its culture. Assimilation of minorities is, by definition, a one-way affair. There is no reciprocity in an assimilationist political culture that privileges the majority population who, at best, ignores or, at worst, is hostile to the minority population’s cultural manifestations. It is against this discriminatory one-way process that minorities have called and fought for reciprocal integration (i.e., changes in the majority culture) and a multicultural society (Modood 2007).

⇢ see also Diversity, Inclusion, Integration

References and further reading:

Bullock, Alan, Oliver Stallybrass, Stephen Trombley, and Bruce Eadie, eds. 1986. The Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought. London: Fontana.

Modood, Tariq. 2007. Multiculturalism: A Civic Idea. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Scholten, Peter. 2013. “The Multilevel Governance of Migrant Integration: A Multilevel Governance Perspective on Dutch Migrant Integration Policies.” In The Discourses and Politics of Migration in Europe, edited by Umut Korkut, Jonas Hinnfors, and Helen Drake, 151–170. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7



Asylum; Asylum seeker

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains the right to seek and to enjoy asylum from persecution. Persecution implies the infliction of serious harm on an individual and the failure of the state of his or her nationality to provide protection. Article 14(1) UDHR states that everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol define refugee as any person who, “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it” (Article 1.A(2)). Upon determination that a person falls within the ambit of the Refugee Convention, as amended by the Refugee Protocol, an asylum seeker gains the status of a refugee in the country in which he sought protection and thus protection from repatriation (the non-refoulement commitment).

⇢ see also: Forced migration or displacement, MigrantMigration and identityMobilityRefugee

References and further reading:

United Nations General Assembly. 1948.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. United Nations.,all%20peoples%20and%20all%20nations.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). 2010. Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency.

Category: D

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8



Attitudes, beliefs, and values

In the survey research conducted in the OPPORTUNITIES project, we measure attitudes on migration. Following a definition found on the website of the University of Reading, we define attitudes as a way of thinking or feeling with regards to someone or something. For example, people might have different attitudes about how welcome migrants are in a society. This may be influenced by a belief. A belief is, according to the same source, “an idea that is accepted as true without any facts.” Such beliefs may be the belief in equal chances for everyone, regardless of their origin. Another competing belief may be that societies are better off if they are ethnically homogeneous, even if this means that there are fewer candidates for certain jobs. These attitudes and beliefs are influenced by values. Values are more fundamental than beliefs and refer, according to the same website, to a people’s own set of principles which they consider of great importance. The (sometimes conflicting) ideologies of social democracy and nationalism might be considered as two examples of deeper value systems with different outcomes at the level of attitudes and beliefs.

⇢ see also Quantitative media studies, Solidarity (with migrants), Survey analysis, Welcome culture

References and further reading:

De Coninck, David, Stefan Mertens, and Leen d’Haenens. 2021. “Cross-Country Comparison of Media Selection and Attitudes Towards Narratives of Migration.” KU Leuven. [Working paper of the OPPORTUNITIES project 101004945 – H2020.]

University of Reading. 2021. Values, Beliefs and Attitudes. University of Reading.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 4, 5

[DC / LH / SM]


Black Swan event

Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2010 [2007]) proposed the concept to describe an unexpected and allegedly unforeseeable event with extreme impact, whose occurrence, albeit being highly improbable, is framed as explainable and predictable in retrospect. The refugee movements of 2015/2016, which are often referred to as the European refugee ‘crisis,’ can be characterized as a Black Swan, given that unprecedented numbers of refugees from the Middle East came to Europe during this period (De Coninck et al. 2021, 7). The so-called march of hope on September 4, 2015 in particular is an unexpected event with extreme impact: More than a thousand refugees, stuck at Keleti train station in Budapest because Hungarian authorities did not allow them to continue their journey with a valid passport and Schengen visa, decided to set off on foot toward the Austrian border (Gebauer 2023, 13); Hungary decided to provide transport and Germany to suspend border controls.

⇢ see also Crisis, Crisis narration, Event modeling, Narrative

References and further reading:

De Coninck, David, Stefan Mertens, and Leen D’Haenens. 2021. “Cross-Country Comparison of Media Selection and Attitudes towards Narratives on Migration.” KU Leuven. [Working paper of the OPPORTUNITIES project 101004945 – H2020.]

Gebauer, Carolin. 2023. “German Welcome Culture Then and Now: How Crisis Narration Can Foster (Contested) Solidarity with Migrants.” University of Wuppertal. [Working paper of the OPPORTUNITIES project 101004945 – H2020.]

Taleb, Nassim Nicholas. 2010 [2007]. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. London: Penguin Books.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 4, 5



Brain drain

In the context of migration, the term brain drain must be distinguished from that of brain gain: “Brain drain is the loss suffered by a region [or country] as a result of the emigration of a (highly) qualified [or skilled] person, while brain gain is when a country benefits as a consequence of immigration of a highly qualified person.” (Srivastava 2020, n.p.)

Brain drain is increasingly being fostered through the creation of advice centers for migrants in host countries (see Tandian 2023), yet it is a loss to the countries of origin. In the short to medium term (e.g., 1–5 years) brain drain reduces the human capital of a region or country, as it takes time and resources to train people unless emigrating people are replaced by immigrants with similar skills. In the long term (e.g., 5–10 years) brain drain could be managed by training and education of those who have not migrated, and again by immigration.

⇢ see also Highly skilled migrant, Labor migration, Migration

References and further reading:

Srivastava, Shubhaangi. 2020. “Brain Drain vs. Brain Gain.” Assembly of European Regions. URL:

Tandian, Aly. 2023. “Germany’s New Migration Policy Could Take Away Vital Talent from Several African Countries.” The Conversation. February 28, 2023. URL:

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7

[AT / MM]


Circular migration

The term circular migration refers to the journeys that migrants make between their countries of origin and another country. Circular migration was a long-standing practice for many Senegalese before it was put on the international agenda as a way of managing international migration in a concerted manner and as a means of reconciling migration and development. In the framework of circular migration, during 2007, Spain concluded bilateral agreements with Senegal, giving 4,000 Senegalese the opportunity to work in Spain temporarily in the agricultural sector. To this effect, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero stated that “the agreements signed with Senegal allow immigration to take place within a legal framework under the guidance of the Spanish Ministry of Labour and according to the state of the labour market in Spain” (qtd. in Tandian and Tall, 2011, 10; author’s translation).

⇢ see also: MigrantMigrationMigration culture

References and further reading:

Tandian, Aly. 2012. “Migrations internationales des Sénégalaises : nouveaux profils des migrantes et insertion professionnelle en Espagne.” In Les migrations africaines vers l’Europe : Entre mutations et adaptation des acteurs sénégalais, edited by Papa Demba Fall et Jordi Garreta Bochaca, 209–240. Lleida: REMIGRAF-IFAN/GR-ASE Lleida. URL:

Tandian, Aly. 2017. “Enjeux de la migration circulaire : des limites des accords entre le Sénégal et l’Espagne aux frustrations des candidates à la migration.” In Revue Sénégalaise de Sociologie. 12–13: 65–86.

Tandian, Aly, and Tall, Serigne Mansour. 2011 “Migration circulaire des Sénégalais : Des migrations tacites aux recrutements organisés [Technical Report, Migration Policy Centre].” In CARIM Analytic and Synthetic Notes 2011/52. URL:

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8




Citizenship is the status of equal membership of a political community from which enforceable rights and obligations, benefits and resources, participatory practices, and a sense of identity flow. The liberal conception of citizenship stresses the formal legal status of being a citizen whereas the civic republican and communitarian conceptions of citizenship emphasize the communal context within which individuals are embedded and exercise self-determination. Citizenship’s roots can be traced back to the ancient Greek city states. The Romans extended the grant of citizenship to the conquered peoples of the Roman Empire thereby making law and order, and not ethnicity, its founding principles. The development of modern statehood made citizenship synonymous with nationality – a link which was called into question in the 1980s owing to globalization and the increasing mobility of people as well as the maturation of European integration and the transformation of the European Community into a post-national political unit.

⇢ see also: European integrationMobility

References and further reading:

Kostakopoulou, Dora. 2008. The Future Governance of Citizenship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Category: A, D

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8