Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Kentucky Journal of Communication, 28(1), 55-75.


A refugee worker conflict at the JBS Swift plant in Grand Island, Nebraska serves as a representative anecdote of the dominant media discourses about refugees in the United States. This study adopts a critical cultural perspective and applies Burke’s (1969) concepts of identification and division to the ways in which refugees are described in comparison to other immigrants in the media coverage of the conflict. These identifications and divisions generate ideologically powerful official roles for refugees in American society. This study finds that refugees, especially refugees who are also Muslim, are defined in the media coverage of the Grand Island conflict as the ‘least preferred immigrant’ because of their perceived distance from the ideal American immigration myth.