Discourse analysis is based on the concept of “discourse” as elaborated by Michel Foucault (2004, ed. or. 1971; Foucault, 1982) and as used by post-modern and post-structural scholars over time (Fairclough, 1995; Barker and Galasinski 2001; Phillips and Hardy, 2002; Phillips and Jorgensen, 2002; Rydin, 2005).

From this perspective, in every society, there are “discursive devices” that organise the perception of reality by defining – depending on the time and places – true and false, right and wrong, legitimate and illegitimate.

Discourse is a non-neutral productive act, in other words it “consolidates and structures itself until becoming conventional or institutional; it promotes rules and values, shapes social actors, […] it can include or exclude” (Orrù, 2017, p. 26).

Following this research perspective, I have analysed the discursive construction of specific migrant categories (regular/irregular; economic/asylum-seeker) as well as of “migration” depicted as a problem to be resolved both in legal texts and in Italian parliamentary debates. Specific laws and the dominant political discourse that support them have a significant symbolic function that determines what is socially acceptable and what is not, becoming subject to social disapproval. The analysis of both legal texts and parliamentary debates on migration highlights the fundamental role played by the criminalisation of mobility and solidarity in supporting increasingly restrictive policies on asylum and, in a wider sense, on migration.


Barker, C., Galasinski, D., & Galasinski, D. D. (2001). Cultural studies and discourse analysis: A dialogue on language and identity. Thousand Oaks:Sage Publications.

Fairclough, N. (2013). Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of language. New York:Routledge.

Foucault, M. (2004). L’Ordine del Discorso. Torino:Einaudi (ed. or. Paris, Gallimard, 1971).

Foucault, M. (1982). The subject and power. Critical Inquiry, 8(4), pp. 777–795.

Jørgensen, M. W., & Phillips, L. J. (2002). Discourse analysis as theory and method. Publications.

Orrù, P. (2017). Il discorso sulle migrazioni nell’Italia contemporanea: un’analisi linguistico-discorsiva sulla stampa (2000-2010). Milano:FrancoAngeli.

Phillips, N., & Hardy, C. (2002). Discourse analysis: Investigating processes of social construction (Vol. 50). Thousand Oaks:Sage Publications.

Rydin, Y. (2005). Geographical knowledge and policy: the positive contribution of discourse studies. Area, 37(1), pp. 73-78.