Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Ismael Muvingi

Second Advisor

Edmund Abaka

Third Advisor

Robin Cooper


discourse, illegal immigration, migration, qualitative discourse analysis, socia constructionism, undocumented immigration


As the United States prepares to elect a new president, immigration continues to be one of the most controversial topics on the national agenda. While Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president with the intent to build a wall along the border with Mexico, the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, has opted, instead to push for comprehensive immigration reform. The difference in approach is symptomatic of the divisiveness within the immigration debate. To explore this divide in depth, the dissertation’s research question is: What does the discourse on undocumented immigration in the United States in the 2000s reveal about the most salient drivers of conflict related to immigration. Using qualitative discourse analysis, the dissertation investigated coverage of the discourse on undocumented immigration in the mainstream news media, hoping to break the discourse into parts that can be examined to gain a deeper understanding of sources of conflict. Through the use of qualitative data analysis software, coding categories determined through identified sources of tension in the discourse spawned themes and topics that helped to analyze points of conflict. Through analyses of these themes, the research uncovered elements in the discourse that facilitated intergroup conflict through negative constructions of the out-group by the in-group. In order to mitigate conflict, the discourse on undocumented immigrants in the United States needs to be reconstructed in a way that untangles immigration issues from security issues and addresses the racialization and criminalization of immigration. In-depth media coverage of immigration stories with context can help facilitate a more constructive discourse.

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