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.

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Tellability is a term from narrative research. Having its origins in conversational storytelling analysis, the concept “[refers] to features that make a story worth telling, its noteworthiness” (Baroni 2014, §1). In conversational scenarios a story’s reportability “is often negotiated and progressively co-constructed through discursive interaction” (Baroni 2014, §1). Generally, stories are considered to display a high degree of tellability if they have a “point”– that is, if storytellers judge these stories “worthy of being reported in specific contexts” (Baroni 2014, §1), for example because they depict events that are unexpected, newsworthy, or for some other reason significant to the storytellers and/or interlocutors. Stories with a low degree of tellability, by contrast, are often perceived as boring and irrelevant.

Foregrounding the “dark side of tellability” (Norrick 2005), linguistic work on conversational analysis has shown how stories can transgress the upper-bounding side of tellability if they present content that puts either the storyteller or the interlocutors in uncomfortable situations. In OPPORTUNITIES Cross Talk scenarios, the act of sharing migrant or refugee experiences may evoke traumatic memories or put storytellers in danger. Such circumstances not only raise ethical issues that deserve thoughtful consideration, but also lead to a ‘narrative dilemma.’

⇢ see also Migrant narrative, Stories of migrationNarrative dilemma

References and further reading:

Baroni, Raphaël. 2014. “Tellability.” In The Living Handbook of Narratology, edited by Peter Hühn, Jan Christoph Meister, John Pier, and Wolf Schmid. URL:

Norrick, Neal R. 2005. “The Dark Side of Tellability.” Narrative Inquiry 15.2: 323–342.

Category: A, B

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




There is no universally accepted definition of terrorism. In the United States, the FBI distinguishes between international terrorism – i.e., “[v]iolent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups who are inspired by, or associated with, designated foreign terrorist organizations or nations (state-sponsored)” – and domestic terrorism – i.e., “[v]iolent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.” The European Council’s anti-terrorism strategy puts emphasis on the prevention of radicalization, which “is not a new phenomenon,” but “has become a more serious threat in recent years”; a key part of the strategy is stricter control of online communication: “In April 2021, the EU adopted a regulation on addressing the dissemination of terrorist content online. The new rules will apply as of 7 June 2022. Competent authorities in the member states will have the power to issue removal orders to service providers requiring them to remove terrorist content or disable access to it within one hour.” (original emphasis)

⇢ see also Anti-racism

References and further reading:

Council of the European Union. 2023. “The EU’s Response to Terrorism.” European Council. URL:

FBI. 2023. “Terrorism.” FBI. URL:​investigate/terrorism.

Category: C

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



Threat perception

The concept of threat perceptions relates to the question of to what extent citizens believe that migration is posing a threat for themselves and their country. Group conflict theory (GCT) (Blumer 1958; Blalock 1967) states that people may feel anxious about migration. The “in-group” wants to protect their social structures from the competition of “outsiders” who are often referred to as the “out-group.” The main assumption behind this theory is that valuable resources within a society (e.g., jobs, housing, access to healthcare, etc.) are scarce, and that migration increases competition over such resources. It is, moreover, assumed that members of the in-group seek to protect their social identity, irrespective of whether they can safeguard their socioeconomic position (Scheepers et al. 2008). However, threat perceptions of migrants and refugees do not result exclusively from economic reasoning, but they may also have cultural and ethnic causes such as the fear of an alleged ‘Islamization’ of the country as well as the demise of ‘Western values’ (Goubin et al. 2022, 9–10).

⇢ see also Attitudes, beliefs, and values, Crisis, Frames of migration, Othering, Racism, Terrorism

References and further reading:

Blalock, Hubert M. 1967. Toward a Theory of Minority-Group Relations. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Blumer, Herbert. 1958. “Race Prejudice as Sense of Group Position.” The Pacific Sociological Review 1.1: 3–7.

Goubin, Silke, Anna Ruelens, and Ides Nicaise. 2022. “Trends in Attitudes towards Migration in Europe: A Comparative Analysis.” KU Leuven, HIVA – Research Institute for Work and Society. [Working paper of the OPPORTUNITIES project 101004945 – H2020.]

Scheepers, Peer, Mérove Gijsberts, and Marcel Coenders. 2002. “Ethnic Exclusionism in European Countries: Public Opposition to Civil Rights for Legal Migrants as a Response to Perceived Ethnic Threat.” European Sociological Review 18.1: 17–34.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 4, 5

[SG / AR / IN]


Toxic narrative

We speak of toxic debates, when there is good reason to doubt that all participants are sincerely interested in establishing common ground and finding a consensus on controversial issues. Narratives can be toxic, too, when they are employed strategically to initiate or sustain toxic debates, fostering “centrifugal” narrative dynamics (Sommer 2023). The toxic nature of harmful “strategic narratives” (Miskimmon et al. 2013) may be a question of (1) content, e.g., falsehoods, disinformation, conspiracy theories, fake news, or hate speech; (2) a lack of transparency with respect to origins and proliferation paths which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to identify senders and disseminators; and (3) intended effects such as triggering confirmation bias or fostering ontological insecurity (Kinnvall et al. 2021).

Invoking freedom of speech in pluralist democracies, toxic narratives are typically designed to exploit legal loopholes, violate unwritten rules, and test taboos, with the aim of redefining the spectrum of acceptability and tellability (for instance, in racist, extremist, and nationalist discourses). Toxic narratives are typically part of a larger framing strategy or image campaign which aims at unfolding a centrifugal narrative dynamics with the goal of destabilizing democracy, curbing the influence of independent media, and sidestepping public debate in order to influence public opinion, for example by spreading disinformation online. The abuse of stories and storytelling has lately received considerable attention (Fernandes 2017; Meretoja and Freeman 2023); see also the recently completed “dangers of narrative” project at the University of Tampere (Mäekelä et al. 2021). At worst, toxic narratives are part of state propaganda, justifying wars of aggression, torture, and genocide.

⇢ see also Counter-(master-)narrative dynamics, Frames of migration, Narrative dynamics, Narratives on migration, Racism, Terrorism

References and further reading:

Kinnvall, Catarina, Ian Manners, and Jennifer Mitzen, eds. 2021. Ontological Insecurity in the European Union. London: Routledge.

Mäkelä, Maria, Samuli Björninen, Laura Karttunen, Matias Nurminen, Juha Raipolda, and Tytti Rantanen. 2021. “Dangers of Narrative: A Critical Approach to Narratives of Personal Experience in Contemporary Story Economy.” Narrative 29.2: 139–159.

Meretoja, Hanna, and Mark Freeman, eds. 2023. The Use and Abuse of Stories: New Directions in Narrative Hermeneutics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Miskimmon, Alister, Ben O’Loughlin, and Laura Roselle. 2013. Strategic Narratives: Communiction, Power, and the New World Order. New York, NY and London: Routledge.

Sommer, Roy. 2023. “Migration and Narrative Dynamics.” In The Routledge Companion to Narrative Theory, edited by Paul Dawson and Maria Mäkelä, 498–511. New York, NY and London: Routledge.

Category: B

Work Package: 2, 4, 5




The trafficker is a person whose activity is to recruit, escort and even lodge another person seeking to migrate in return for a financial or other material benefit. In some West African countries, the trafficker is usually called a “passeur” or “coxer.”

⇢ see also Human trafficking

References and further reading:

Tandian, Aly. 2006. “Barça ou Barsaax (Aller à Barcelone ou mourir) : Le désenchantement des familles et des candidats sénégalais à la migration.” Diasporas. Histoire et sociétés 9: 124–137. URL: Date of access: August 24, 2021.

Category: A

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