PERCEPTIONS: Understand the Impact of Novel Technologies, Social Media, and Perceptions in Countries Abroad on Migration Flows

Narratives on a “better life” that can become reality somewhere else have always shaped human migration. The image or idea of a “promised land”, however, might not be real, and newcomers are often faced with obstacles and challenges. Certain narratives and perceptions of Europe influence migration aspirations, and made-up images can lead to problems when the image does not correspond to realities on the ground, from challenges to integration to even security threats. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance to understand and investigate narratives about Europe, how these can lead to problems and (even) threats, how they are distributed, and, in a next step, find ways to react to and counteract them.

Perceptions of Europe are formed also prior to migration, and they are based on a multitude of sources. Social media and new communication networks have increased the scope and the intensity of distribution of narratives of Europe, and so-called filter bubbles and echo chambers can lead to isolated misperceptions that are not corrected. Due to new communication technologies, false or incorrect claims become a life on their own, raise expectations or disapproval. At the same time, however, these technologies and communication networks might also provide a channel to set an exaggerated image straight and to promote a more realistic narrative. 

It is therefore the aim of the PERCEPTIONS project to identify and understand the narratives and (mis-)perceptions of the EU abroad, as well as to assess potential issues related to the border and external security, in order to allow for better planning and countermeasures. 

The main objectives of the PERCEPTIONS project are therefore to:

(1) identify narratives, images and perceptions of Europe abroad, and which narratives could lead to problems, false expectations, security threats or even radicalisation; and

(2) to create a toolkit of creative and innovative measures to react or even counteract such challenges, considering social, societal and structural aspects. 

Research objectives

ICMPD’s Research Unit will contribute by conducting both desk and empirical research in the countries under study. Baseline research will be conducted on the existing knowledge base regarding perceptions of the EU outside the EU, as well as existing measures, policies and legal frameworks in place to address potential risks.

ICMPD will conduct and support empirical research in the respective countries under study (Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Germany, UK). This includes in particular qualitative semi-structured interviews with migrants and practitioners on images and narratives (potential) migrants have of Europe, as well as focus groups with policy makers and civil society stakeholders on their needs and experiences, including as related to security challenges.

Project Duration: 2019-2022
Funding: European Commission Horizon 2020
Contact: Maegan Hendow, Nesrine Ben Brahim
Project Website:


Ben Brahim, N., Rogoz, M., Bilger, V. (2020) PERCEPTIONS Analysis of Policies and Policy Recommendations

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