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The “red door” controversy—Middlesbrough's asylum seekers and the discursive politics of racism

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Bates



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2017.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This article explores some of the ways in which the current refugee “crisis” has played out in the North East of England, with a particular focus on media coverage of asylum in Middlesbrough, the town with the highest proportion of asylum seekers in the country. In January 2016, Middlesbrough made national headlines when it was claimed that the homes of asylum seekers in the town had been made identifiable through the distinctive colour of their houses' front doors, leading to occupants being singled out for violence and abuse. Drawing on critical discourse analysis of national and local newspaper features and online media content, the article examines contrasting constructions of racism, place, and class in the media's coverage of the “red door” controversy. It is argued that even these humanised constructions of asylum seekers draw on discourses that obscure the existence of elite-driven cultural and institutional racisms that are a defining feature of Britain's asylum process. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bates D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology

Year: 2017

Volume: 27

Issue: 2

Pages: 126–136

Print publication date: 01/03/2017

Online publication date: 15/02/2017

Acceptance date: 18/01/2017

Date deposited: 06/10/2017

ISSN (print): 1052–9284

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd


DOI: 10.1002/casp.2300


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