Language dynamics of immigration discourse and it's consequences
Title: Language dynamics of immigration discourse and it's consequences
DNr: NAISS 2023/22-360
Project Type: NAISS Small Compute
Principal Investigator: Miriam Hurtado Bodell <>
Affiliation: Linköpings universitet
Duration: 2023-04-01 – 2024-04-01
Classification: 50401


This project is meant to be used as a resource for studying the language dynamics between the news and social media users, focusing how they talk about immigration, ethnic minorities, and neighborhoods associated with high clustering of ethnic similar others. How people talk about events, people and places are theorized to reflect their interpretations and beliefs about them as well. However, the empirical evidence of how people's perceptions and actions go-together is still underdeveloped. In a series of paper, we will explore: (1) studying the similarity of language use when discussing immigration-related issues in social media posts from the online discussion forum Flashback and the traditional media. Answering the questions: when do different groups in society converge/diverge in how they talk about immigration? Moreover, can we explain why we see patterns of divergence and convergence? (2) How well do measures of how people talk about places/groups correspond with the characteristics of these places/groups align? What can explain alignment, and does it matter for individual-level actions? We conduct (1) by extracting the "context words" surrounding the immigration keyword in the trigram and compare their distribution among different actors. We compare the context word distribution by Spearman rank correlation. By studying the changing rank of context words among different actors, we can identify how many context words are increasingly/decreasingly used by the ego/alter/both actor(s). Studying these different categories over time and between different groups allows us to describe the dynamics generating the similarities found. We conduct (2) by comparing the context in which different groups of society discuss different groups and places and compare it to what we can learn about these groups and places from Swedish register data. Comparing how concepts relate in the language (using word embeddings) with how they relate in "reality" will help us answer long-standing questions about how people form their perceptions about the world. Understanding the diffusion of new language helps us understand the role of opinion homophily in language use and the politicizing power of languages. Connecting how people talk to how the act is also one fundamental piece of the unanswered puzzles about how people navigate the social world.