Tweeting through Turmoil: A Mixed Methods Exploration on the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Canadians' Discourse about Refugee Individuals

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Canada's role in supporting the global refugee crisis has been significant. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new challenges, impacting the resettlement of refugee groups globally. Nationalist tendencies, already prevalent in populations, have been exacerbated, leading to increased biases against other groups and the reinforcement of borders in host nations. Negative representations of refugees can influence immigration policies, further restricting their admittance into host countries. To better understand public sentiment towards refugees, this mixed methods study looks at Canadian Twitter users’ online messages related to refugees. Employing an innovative computational quantitative methodology of sentiment analysis, the study evaluates shifts in public sentiment towards refugees. The results of the sentiment analysis reveal a significant shift in sentiment during the pandemic. Qualitative content analysis, along with critical discourse analysis, shed further light on themes that emerged from the tweets. These include pandemic-related discussions, increases in xenophobia, racism, and prejudice, and a decline in community support. By integrating the results of both quantitative and qualitative analyses, the study provides a comprehensive understanding of the shift in sentiment toward refugees during the pandemic. This research has implications for immigration policy, particularly concerning the resettlement of refugee groups, and contributes to the broader understanding of how public sentiment shapes responses to the global refugee crisis. Furthermore, the study highlights the potential of innovative methodologies like sentiment analysis to gauge public opinion on widely-used social media platforms.
Refugee, COVID-19, Pandemic, Twitter, Mixed Methodology, Sentiment Analysis, Critical Discourse Analysis
Short, T. (2023). Tweeting through turmoil: a mixed methods exploration on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadians' discourse about refugee individuals (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from