Misrecognition has been conceptualised as an act of recognition that is ‘distorted’ or ‘incomplete’ (Yar, 2011: 129), and can be used to capture the differentiated experience of social and/or political phenomena by different individuals (Thompson and Yar, 2011). In this article, we apply the concept of misrecognition to the visual representation of refugees in the British tabloid news media. The article presents a novel two-step analysis which combines visual analysis of a representative sample of British tabloid newspaper coverage of refugees with an analysis of a representative sample of this coverage by two focus groups of tabloid newspaper readers. In taking this approach, we capture the role of audiences in constructing the meanings of the images, a perspective largely absent from the literature to date. The findings show that a gendered misrecognition shapes the visual construction of refugees by this media and its audience, with women more likely to be recognised as refugees and (mis)recognised as vulnerable mothers, and men more likely to be misrecognised as loners and criminals, and less likely to be recognised as refugees. Reflecting on the findings, we argue that misrecognition is a critical concept in understanding the politics of marginalisation constructed by the tabloid news media.
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- tabloid news media
- visual analysis