Rumors and Refugees: How Government-Created Information Vacuums Undermine Effective Crisis Management

Forthcoming at International Studies Quarterly

51 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2017 Last revised: 8 Jan 2018

Melissa Carlson

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Political Science

Laura Jakli

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Political Science

Katerina Linos

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Date Written: December 5, 2017

Abstract

Although over 800,000 displaced people arrived in Greece by sea in 2015, fewer than 5% applied for asylum in this first country of arrival. Thousands chose informal routes for northward travel, or remained in Greece in legal limbo. The attractiveness of northern Europe, economic problems in Greece, and bureaucratic hurdles can only partially explain refugees’ choices and the chaotic implementation of refugee policy. We argue that this governance crisis is due in part to government-created information vacuums, in which rumors and misinformation about refugee rights flourished. Drawing on 25 semi-structured interviews with aid workers and government officials and over 80 discussions with migrants and refugees in Greece, we demonstrate that host governments’ frequent policy shifts, information dissemination limits, and inconsistent policy implementation helped create information vacuums. These actions undermined both refugees’ exercise of fundamental rights and host governments’ ability to manage refugee crises effectively.

Keywords: refugees, rumors, policy implementation, ethnographic research

Suggested Citation

Carlson, Melissa and Jakli, Laura and Linos, Katerina, Rumors and Refugees: How Government-Created Information Vacuums Undermine Effective Crisis Management (December 5, 2017). Forthcoming at International Studies Quarterly. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3082855

Melissa Carlson (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Political Science ( email )

210 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Laura Jakli

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Political Science ( email )

210 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Katerina Linos

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

488 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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