A Corpus-Assisted Contrastive Investigation of Migration-related Terms in British and Italian Political Discourse


  • Maria Ivana Lorenzetti University of Verona




migrant categories, critical discourse studies, corpus linguistics, populist discourse, political discourse


Combining the theoretical background of Critical Discourse Studies (van Dijk 2015a, 2015b; van Leeuwen 2008; Wodak 2015a) with a corpus-assisted methodology (van Diik 2015a; 2015b), this paper contrastively investigates the discursive representation of migration and migrant people by leading British (Nigel Farage, Jeremy Corbyn) and Italian politicians (Matteo Salvini, Matteo Renzi) in the years 2016-2018, starting from the examination of the collocational profile of such migration-related terms as immigration, immigrant, migrant, refugee and asylum seeker. The period is salient for the global upsurge of populism (Mudde 2004), the Brexit referendum, and the so-called ‘refugee crisis,’ which turned immigration into a hot topic in the political agenda of parties of different orientations. Our empirical analysis sheds light on two opposing views: the negative portrayal of migrants as a threat by right-wing populist politicians across countries (Lorenzetti 2020), while left-wing politicians display a more humanitarian attitude. Regardless of political stance or specific migrant terms, however, the representation of migrant groups as social actors is crucially founded on the strategies of aggregation, collectivisation and functionalisation (van Leeuwen 2008), which ultimately result in the perpetuation of stereotyped and partial depictions that overlook their features as individuals.

Author Biography

Maria Ivana Lorenzetti, University of Verona

Maria Ivana Lorenzetti (mariaivana.lorenzetti@univr.it) is Assistant Professor in English Linguistics at the University of Verona. She holds a PhD in English Linguistics from the University of Pisa (2006). She is part of the editorial boards of Bibliography of Metaphor and Metonymy (John Benjamins), and the academic journals Iperstoria and Interdisciplinary Journal of Populism. Her main research interests are in the domains of political discourse, with a focus on populist rhetoric, also from a contrastive perspective, immigration and gender.


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