Compassionate Border Securitisation? Border Control in the Scandinavian News Media during the ‘Refugee Crisis’



Although Scandinavian countries are similar in many respects and have maintained common policies in several areas, they differ in their immigration policies. Swedish immigration policies have tended to be liberal, Denmark’s strict, and Norway’s somewhere in between. In 2015, however, all Scandinavian countries implemented border controls because of unexpectedly high migration.

This article aims to explore how border control is legitimised and portrayed in Scandinavian news media through the three main discourses: sustainability, humanitarianism and defence against threat. The article argues that political actors use notions of welfare state sustainability and solidarity to justify border control. As the system is allegedly collapsing, securitisation of the border becomes an overarching premise for sustaining international obligations such as providing shelter for refugees. Border control is thus portrayed as compassionate, rather than exclusionary, policy.


Refugee crisisHumanitarian bordersScandinaviaMedia representationBorder control
  • Year: 2022
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 4–20
  • DOI: 10.33134/njmr.494
  • Submitted on 24 Jul 2019
  • Accepted on 22 Jun 2021
  • Published on 7 Mar 2022
  • Peer Reviewed