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...)

Migration research distinguishes between labor migrants, economic migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and expatriates – to name but a few categories. While the distinction between refugees and asylum seekers is established in European or national law, the differentiation between refugees and migrants is less clear-cut, as migrant serves as an umbrella term for persons leaving their home country to reside or take refuge in another country. “To gain official status as a refugee,” Meike Watzlawik and Ignacio Brescó de Luna (2017, 247) argue, “one must […] bridge the gap between one’s specific individual life experiences resulting from an oppressing regime, conflict, or war zone, and the legal and abstract category of ‘a refugee,’ as well as the set of expectations, predefined ideas, and conventions associated with such a category.” Recognition as a refugee consequently requires a specific performative act: “The way refugees have to present themselves so as to meet the cultural expectations of the hosting society […] heavily depends on the representations whereby the very notion of refugee is socially constructed and imagined. Such representations in turn mediate the way in which societies come to perceive, understand, and behave vis-à-vis a phenomenon only experienced directly by very few people.” (Watzlawik and de Luna 2017, 248) Media and the digital public sphere play a central role in producing, multiplying, and perpetuating diverging notions of and attitudes towards refugees, expatriates, and other migrants.

⇢ see also Asylum; Asylum seeker, Narrative identity, Migrant, Migration, RefugeeRepresentation of migration

References and further reading:

Watzlawik, Meike, and Ignacio Brescó de Luna. 2017. “The Self in Movement: Being Identified and Identifying Oneself in the Process of Migration and Asylum Seeking.” Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science 51.2: 244–260. URL:

Category: A

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