Racism in Discussion Forums about Migration and Education


The project “migration.macht.schule” is conducting research into discourses of migration and education as represented in the internet discussion forums of the Austrian daily newspaper “Der Standard”. Applying methods of critical discourse analysis in accordance with the discourse-historical approach and qualitative corpus-based methods, linguists are collaborating in their research with students of the BRG 3 (Federal High School – Scientific Branch) Radetzkystraße. While racist comments in online discussion forums have repeatedly attracted public attention, more detailed research on the particular phenomenon needs to be conducted.

The goals of the project are twofold: to fill the obvious research gap and to give high school students a basic understanding of the notions of critical discourse analysis, providing them with a set of tools to analyse discourses they are confronted with in their everyday life whether on the internet or in other media. This is meant to promote the students’ language awareness as well as improve their capability to challenge racist discursive strategies and consequently to make an essential contribution to their civic education.

In cooperation with the Institute for Corpus Linguistics and Text Technology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the software company VERBI, students aged 16-17 years will be introduced to computer-assisted methods of discourse analysis and will learn how to annotate and analyse digital textual corpora making use of the qualitative data analysis software MAXQDA. In addition, the project team will cooperate with the newspaper “Der Standard” and ZARA, a Vienna based NGO combating racism and promoting civil courage as well as a positive approach to cultural diversity. The two institutions will offer the students a supporting programme providing insight into online journalism and anti-racism work, which is also supposed to constitute the basis for the guided reflections on xenophobia and racism in today’s society. The results of the research and the outcomes of students’ work will be documented on a project website furnishing examples of racist language encountered in online forums together with appropriate counter-strategies. In addition to publishing papers in respective research journals, the project plans to produce a didactic publication on the adoption of critical discourse analysis and computer-assisted analysis of digital text corpora for use in high school classrooms.

This project has been completed.