Attitudes towards Afghan refugees and immigrants in Turkey: A Twitter analysis

Uluğ Ö. M., Kanık B., Tekin S., Uyanık G. D., Solak N.

Current Research in Ecological and Social Psychology, vol.5, 2023 (Scopus) identifier


Data generated by social media platforms such as Twitter provide a unique opportunity to examine large-scale public communication produced spontaneously and in real-time, and consequently, contribute to comprehensively understanding the complex set of attitudes towards refugees. The present study utilises a qualitative approach to explore host members’ attitudes towards refugees on social media during the global crisis. In particular, we examine perceptions of a broader population, Twitter users, and analyse public reactions towards Afghan refugees expressed within tweets during the pandemic in Turkey as a response to the 2021 Afghan refugee influx. We analysed and coded 2,686 tweets using qualitative content analysis based on four main categories: 1) Representations of Afghan refugees and immigrants, 2) main causes for rejecting them, 3) taking action against them and their supporters, and 4) positive attitudes towards them. Results highlighted the prevalence of negative perceptions about, dehumanisation of, and racism towards Afghan refugees in Turkey mainly due to perceived realistic, symbolic, demographic, security, moral, and health threats from them. However, the findings also showed there were positive, albeit very few, attitudes towards Afghan refugees in the form of solidarity, help and empathy. We discuss these findings in relation to the existing literature on host society members’ attitudes towards refugees and immigrants and why we need to qualitatively examine these attitudes on social media.