Journal of Intercultural Communication, 20(3): 59-73

The Role of Locally-produced Foreign-language Media in the Migration Experiences of Lifestyle Migrants in the Algarve

Kate Torkington*, Filipa Perdigão Ribeiro† & Laura López Romero‡

Universidade do Algarve and Universidad de Málaga

* School of Management, Hospitality and Tourism & CiTUR, Universidade do Algarve, ESGHT, Campus da Penha, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal. Email: ktorking@ualg.pt.
†School of Management, Hospitality and Tourism & CiTUR, Universidade do Algarve, ESGHT, Campus da Penha, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal. Email: fperdig@ualg.pt.
‡Departamento de Periodismo, Facultad de Ciencias de la Comunicación, Universidad de Málaga, Spain. Email: lauralopezr@uma.es.

Abstract

This study explores the relationships of northern Europeans living in the Algarve (Portugal) with locally-produced foreign-language media. For such “lifestyle” migrants, these media play an active role in their migration and post-migration experiences. Besides their functional role, they may also contribute to community-making processes. Findings from a survey and focus groups indicate that respondents are familiar with these media, using them as sources of information regarding local news, events, and services. However, the findings also reveal ambivalence about the extent to which these media are useful in providing cultural understanding as aid to intercultural communication or to feeling integrated in local society.

Keywords:foreign-language media, lifestyle migrants, social integration, post-migration experiences, Algarve.


1. Introduction

Migratory processes and population movements throughout history and across the world have led to multicultural societies sharing the same territory. By the 19th Century, international migratory flows had reached an unprecedented level, and the need arose to create a media structure that contributed to informing communities of residents who, not knowing the language of the country where they settled, required an intermediary to create their own conception of the territory and their place within it (García Galindo 2009: 490). In America, in particular, the ethnic-community press became established as a product of ethnic groups’ attempts to “organise, communicate and facilitate their transition” (Viswanath & Arora 2000: 40) into their new social surroundings. The role of the foreign-language press in regions where there are large migrant communities has undoubtedly changed since the days when its principal function was found to be the preparation of immigrants for good citizenship in the countries of settlement (Zubrzycki 1958). Nevertheless, a further role identified by Zubrzycki – providing essential information about the customs, traditions, and institutions of the country to bridge the cultural gap between the place of origin and the current place of residence – doubtless still holds true. Such media can contribute to familiarizing migrants with the sociocultural context of the destination place so as to ease the transition of moving and assimilation into the new place (Matsaganis, Katz & Ball-Rokeach 2011). At the same time, these media may well also contribute to locality, community, and identity-making processes in migration experiences (Deuze 2006; Husband 2005; Ramasubramanian, Doshi & Saleem 2017; Tufte & Riis 2001; Zhou & Cai 2002).

Drawing on data obtained from a broader study of foreign-language media,1 the main research question for this paper focuses on the role of locally produced foreign-language media in the post-migration experiences of northern Europeans2 (British, Germans, French and Dutch persons) living in the Algarve region of southern Portugal. These migrants are part of the contemporary phenomenon of “privileged” migration (Croucher 2012; 2015), which has come to be known as lifestyle migration (Benson & O’Reilly 2009, 2016; Benson & Osbaldiston 2016) and which is characterized by people whose resources enable them to choose a destination from an array of possibilities perceived as leading to a better lifestyle (Lawson 2017). The lens of lifestyle migration has enabled analytical exploration of migrations fueled by a quest for a perceived lifestyle that would enhance quality of life, rather than economic or political factors. In other words, the migrants who are conceptualized in this way are those who “can approach migration as a form of consumption in contrast to the production orientation attributed to most other migration flows” (Benson & O’Reilly 2016: 22). Notable examples of such migration flows on a large scale are those undertaken by northern Europeans to the coastal areas of southern Europe that have already been developed as tourist destinations. The undeniable link between tourism and migration in coastal areas of countries such as Spain and Portugal has led to the coining of the term “residential tourism” (Huete, Mantecón & Aledo 2008) to include those who may not have committed to full-time living in the destination but who spend extended periods there in second homes purchased or rented for the purpose. It positions “residential tourists” as individuals who, as part-tourist and therefore “visitor”, are somehow exempt from the duties and obligations of a full-fledged citizen of the country.

In studies of those who decide to become full-time and often long-term residents, the question of integration into the host society invariably arises. Notwithstanding the complexity surrounding the concept of integration and the fact that there is no clear definition of what it entails, it appears to be “a key factor that frames the moral landscape of lifestyle migration” (Lawson 2015a: 9), often leading to ambivalence, contradictions and dilemmas at both the individual and collective level of identity projects. It is therefore pertinent to explore migrant perceptions of experiences of integration. Although some recent studies have argued that lifestyle migrants often discuss integration as a kind of moral obligation (e.g., Benson 2011, Lawson 2015b, Torkington 2015), the apparent superficiality or even total lack of social integration of these migrants has been well-documented since the earliest studies of these communities (e.g., O’Reilly 2000, Huber & O’Reilly 2004).

One obstacle to integration that is almost always cited is the language barrier. Many studies have observed that inability to communicate in the local language is widespread (Torkington & Ribeiro 2019). The reasons listed for the creation and maintenance of this language barrier are always similar: participants report that it is not, after all, necessary to learn and use the local language to enjoy the “good life”, including in the Algarve (Torkington 2015). One reason for this is the way in which these migrants tend to form strong social networks and communities among themselves, concentrating on building the bonding rather than bridging form of social capital (Putnam 2000), as noted by Casado-Díaz and colleagues (2014). Another factor is the widespread use of English as lingua franca in commercial and service activities due to the highly developed tourism sector in these destinations. A third reason offered is the age of the migrants, since it is clearly the case that the greater part of this type of migration to the south of Europe happens in later life stages, often following retirement.

Tied in with all of these aspects is the evolution of the locally-based foreign-language media, which forms an important part of the meso-level of the so-called migration industry (David, Eimermann & Åkerlund 2015), by simultaneously stimulating and informing aspirations to move and mediating the process of settling. For many people, this type of media may well have a strong influence on how they live their daily lives in their new place of residence as well as, more subtly, how they construct and perceive community and identity. However, the literature on the relationship between this type of migration and the media has largely focused on the representation of migrants in the mainstream media, with scant academic attention paid to local media initiatives that are produced by migrants for migrants (David 2012). This is curious, given that these media seem to play an important part in contributing to and maintaining the “public sphericule” (Gitlin 1998) within which much of the communication among and about these migrant communities takes place – as well as being in itself a space for the production of community, identity and locality. In many of the studies on lifestyle migration in the south of Europe, locally produced media get a cursory mention – if at all. O’Reilly (2000: 106), for example, in her detailed ethnography of British nationals living on the Costa del Sol in the 1990s, remarked that:

…The newspapers and magazines published in the area by and for English-speaking people… tend to focus on British club news and entertainment, on places to go and things to do, on eating out, a little bit of local and Spanish news and a little bit of British news. The emphasis is on having fun and enjoying your time on the Costa del Sol. Serious issues are only occasionally tackled… with special relevance to the expatriate experience.

However, no further commentary is made on the role of these media, despite the fact that they have been prolific in the Costa del Sol since 1915 (García Galindo 2004, López Romero & Serrano Porras 2016). Gustafson, who carried out extensive research among Swedish nationals living in Spain, notes in passing that the news media play a part in constructing the Swedish environments in Spain that enable migrants to lead a highly Swedish lifestyle, meaning that “integration in Spanish society is not a necessity but an individual choice” (Gustafson 2002: 907); but he does not discuss this further. The situation is similar as far as the Algarve is concerned: Torkington (2014), describing the linguistic landscape of the Algarve, acknowledges the existence of a wide range of locally produced media published in a language other than Portuguese; but she does not explore this further. The only detailed studies to date have been done by David (2012, 2015), who explored the role of an English language radio station in the Algarve in the lives and settlement processes of its listeners.

This paper aims to contribute to the growing body of knowledge about communities of northern Europeans living in a southern European tourism destination by exploring in more depth the relationships between these communities and the media produced locally by and for them. Taking data obtained from a questionnaire survey of British, German, French, and Dutch residents in the Algarve as well as focus groups conducted with groups of British and German nationals, we explore the role of these media and ask whether they are perceived as having a primarily functional/informational role, or whether they are also thought to have a role in community or identity building. We begin by discussing the concept of foreign-language media, followed by an inventory of foreign media produced in the Algarve. This is followed by a section explaining the methodology and data before going on to present our findings and analysis based on the questionnaire responses and focus-group sessions. The paper ends with a discussion of the findings and some conclusions.

2. The concept of locally-produced foreign language media

The first studies on the immigrant press date from the early 20th Century and were centered on immigrant populations in the USA (e.g., Park 1922). In Europe, there are cases of printed media directed at foreign communities going back to the 19th Century, such as the English-language press in the Canary and Balearic Islands, aimed at foreign residents who had moved there for a variety of reasons, not least the amenable year-round climate of the archipelagos (García Galindo 2004). Nowadays, the Spanish coastal regions continue to be notable for their sheer volume of production of foreign-language press. A survey of printed journalistic publications in the Costa del Sol in 2005 cited 124 media aimed at the foreign community (López Romero 2009), with various locally produced online digital media and radio stations, indicating that this phenomenon continues to be a stable feature of the region, located at the intersection of what Appadurai (1996) has termed the “mediascape” and “ethnoscape”.

There is no real consensus in the literature on the terminology of this media phenomenon, which has been variously called immigrant press (Blau 1998), ethnic press (Lacroix 1998, Mataganis et al. 2011, Rhodes 2010, Rigoni 2007), exile press (Cooper-Richet 2015), tourist-resident press or resident-immigrant press (Gómez-Escalonilla 2008: 17-18), geo-ethnic media (Liu et al. 2018) or minority media (David 2015). Nevertheless, we consider what is perhaps the broadest and most widely accepted term – “foreign-language media” – to be a valid concept for this study. We add the modifier “locally produced”, to distinguish from the widely available foreign-language media that have been imported from the country of origin for consumption by foreign nationals.

3. Foreign-language media produced in the Algarve

This section provides an inventory of the locally produced foreign-language media identified in the Algarve in May 2017. Eighteen different media were identified, including two weekly newspapers, two digital news sites, twelve magazines, one newsletter3 and one radio station. Table 1 shows the publications by media type and language.

Without a doubt, the two English-language weekly newspapers, The Portugal News and The Algarve Resident, are the most widely known and read of all the foreign language media present in the Algarve. The Portugal News was established in 1977 (then called The Algarve News), and is the longest running of all the media. Since 2017, it has adopted the slogan “the loudest English voice in Portugal”, attesting to its uncontested popularity as the main English-language periodical not only in the Algarve region (where it is still based) but in the whole of Portugal. It currently has a weekly print run of around 18,000 and, although the printed version has a nominal cover price (€1.50), only around 12% of copies are sold through newsagents or other vendors, with the rest distributed freely, mostly in major supermarkets and shopping malls and at the airport. This indicates the level of success of the advertising sections of the newspaper, since it is clear that the running costs of the publication are met almost entirely by paying advertisers. The newspaper has a comprehensive and regularly updated website, which can be viewed online without subscription. Readers can subscribe to a weekly newsletter for a digested version and follow regular news updates via social-media channels (e.g., Facebook, where it currently has a following of around 35,000).

Table 1> Foreign language media in the Algarve (2017).
Type of media Title Periodicity Language(s) Year of launch
Newspapers The Portugal News weekly English 1977
The Algarve Resident weekly English 1989
Digital news sites The Algarve Daily News updated daily English 2009
Algarve 24 updated daily English, French, Portuguese 2014
Magazines Simply Algarve monthly English 2016
East Algarve monthly English 2008
Central Algarve 3 per year English 1993
Inside Carvoeiro quarterly English 2007
Inside Lagos quarterly English 2007
Tomorrow monthly English 2007
Smart Living 3 per year English 2017
Clubhouse annual English, Portuguese 2007
Essential Algarve bi-monhly English, Portuguese 2000
Vale do Lobo Living annual English, Portuguese 2008
Update (AFPOP) bi-monthly English, German 1987
Entdecken Sie Algarve monthly German 1989
Vivre le Portugal quarterly French 2014
Radio KISS FM daily broadcasts English, Portuguese 1992

Besides some national and European news, the focus is firmly on the Algarve region, with sections including local and community news, sport, lifestyle and leisure, food and wine, travel, motoring, real estate, “what’s on”, finance, and letters to the editor. In terms of advertising, besides full- and half-page advertisements there is a directory of local businesses and classifieds (small ads). The advertising is clearly directed at a target audience of expats with products and services often provided by the expat community for the expat community.

The Algarve Resident was established in 1989 and bills itself as “the voice of the Algarve’s expatriate community”.4 Currently owned by the Open Media group – a media company based in Portugal – it has a weekly press run of 5,000. Unlike its competitor, The Portugal News, it still sells over 80% of its copies through newsagents and vendors, with a further 15% allocated to paid subscribers. However, its website has recently evolved into a free, national digital news site called The Portugal Resident Online, claiming around 40,000 unique visitors per month. The newspaper has a Facebook page with around 13,000 followers and a Twitter account. Its many sections resemble those of The Portugal News.

The Algarve Daily News is an English-language, online-only digital service, although it originated in 2006 with the print publication Get Real, published weekly until 2009. Since then, it has undergone several updates and now comprises a website with approximately 15,000 unique visitors per week and a companion weekly e-newsletter with around 6,500 subscribers.5 This news site promotes itself as providing an “irreverent insight into current Algarve events and affairs”. Besides local and national news, the website has sections including “what’s on in the Algarve”, “charity news”, “business”, “property”, and “learn Portuguese”, as well as local advertising and classifieds.

The other digital news media identified at the time of the study, Algarve24, originated as a Portuguese language digital news site. In 2014, the decision was taken to make it bilingual: Portuguese/English. In 2016, a French-language version was added. In May 2017, there were around 39,000 unique visitors to the site per month, with roughly the same number of views for the Portuguese and English versions, and a growing readership in French (personal communication from the Director, May 2017).6

Of the twelve magazines identified, seven are published in English only. These provide coverage for different areas of the Algarve and are characterized by features on local events, businesses (e.g., restaurants) and aspects of Portuguese lifestyle and culture. Added to these are several bilingual magazines. Essential Algarve (English/Portuguese) is a glossy, lifestyle magazine “with a focus on luxury living”, currently with over 100 pages per issue targeting “the top end of both the tourist market and the international residential community”. Its publishers (Open Media Group) estimate a readership of around 100,000 per issue, although the print run is just 12,000. This is because the newspaper is left in public spaces such as hotel foyers, medical clinics, etc. Clubhouse focuses on the world of golf in the Algarve, whilst Vale do Lobo Living is the magazine of one of Algarve’s biggest and best-known resorts, which has a good deal of second-home tourists as well as full-time foreign residents.

There is just one magazine in German, also owned by Open Media, but due to its long history (launched in 1989) it is a well-established publication in the German expat community. There is also just one French publication, Vivre le Portugal, launched by Open Media in 2014 to cater to the growing community of French nationals in the Algarve. Both these magazines have companion websites, which include regularly updated news stories.

Finally, a longstanding radio station, Kiss FM, has been broadcasting from Albufeira since 1992, mainly in English. It can be picked up across most of the Algarve. It also has a website and can be listened to live via the Internet. It has a strong social media presence.

In sum, there are relatively few-foreign language media in the Algarve, compared to the Costa del Sol in Spain,7 due to a relatively smaller foreign population but also the well-established media that are available across the region and online, and the current monopoly by one media group, which owns around half of the foreign language publications in the Algarve. In terms of news, the two longstanding weekly newspapers have established such a reputation as would be hard to compete with, at least in the printed press.

4. Methodology and data

This paper draws on data collected through an online survey and two follow-up focus groups. The online survey, available in English, French, and German, was applied to foreign residents of EU nationalities in the Algarve region from November 2017 to February 2018. Its main purposes were to collect socio-demographic data (age, nationality, place of residence, education, and employment status) and gain insights into reasons for moving to the Algarve, the process of settlement in the area (length of time living in the Algarve, intentions to stay for the foreseeable future, indicators of social integration such as social relationships, and data on Portuguese language learning and skills), and finally media diet.

The survey included a total of 41 questions, of which 19 focused on media consumption and perceptions, with both open and closed questions. It was advertised on social media and by emailing/messaging various local associations and organ¬izations that have close ties to the migrant communities in the Algarve – as well as via personal contacts – to encourage snowball sampling. A direct link to the questionnaire was provided.

Once we had collected all the responses, we applied non-probabilistic quota sampling adjusted for nationality according to the proportion of each national group living in the Algarve relative to the total population of the four national groups under analysis: British, German, Dutch, and French. At the same time, we needed to eliminate respondents who could more aptly be described as tourists than residents or those who were relative newcomers to the region. To this end, a question was included to determine length of residence in the Algarve. Respondents who had not been living in the region for at least six months were eliminated from the sample. Although the survey obtained responses from 13 European nationalities, we focused on responses from the British, German, French and Dutch residents, since these are the top four groups of European Union nationals officially registered as living in the Algarve, according to the 2015 data8 on which we based our sampling; see Table 2.

Table 2: Questionnaire survey sample.
Nationalities Sample Sample (%) Sample by gender Average age Top 4 EU nationalities residing in the Algarve (2015)9 Top 4 EU nationalities residing in the Algarve (2015) (%)
M F
United Kingdom 151 55,9% 84 67 67 10,045 57.5%
Germany 46 17.0% 20 26 65 3,052 17.5%
Netherlands 39 14.4% 27 12 66 2,287 13.1%
France 34 12.6% 21 13 65 2,075 11.8%
Total 270 100.0% 152 118 66.2% 17,459 100.0%

As a follow-up to the survey in 2018, we conducted two focus groups: one with seven British and the other with four German residents. The groups consisted of both men and women who were long-time residents in the Algarve. Even though some were retired and some still professionally active, their ages reflected the average age of those nationals living in the Algarve (Table 2). We followed a loose topic guide based on the results from the questionnaire, some of which we also presented as visual stimulus to the discussion. One of the aims of these focus groups was further to explore different views, attitudes and perceptions (Litosseliti 2003: 18) on how foreign-language media impacts feelings of integration in the Algarve; the analysis presented for this study is centered on this part of the discussion. The focus groups were conducted in the native language of the participants (English and German) and lasted for 90 minutes (British) and 53 minutes (German). The focus-group discussions were transcribed and, in the case of the German data, translated into English. We repeatedly attempted to organize a French focus-group session but were unable to recruit participants. It was decided not to conduct a session with Dutch participants, as no locally produced media in the Dutch language had been identified.

5. Findings and analysis

5.1 General findings on locally-produced foreign language media consumption

Overall, the vast majority of respondents (88%) stated that they consumed some form of locally produced foreign-language media. However, it was found that, when the sample was broken down by nationality, one quarter of the French respondents did not consume foreign-language media: a fact that is no doubt accounted for by the lack of such media in French.

For those who categorized themselves as regular consumers of foreign-language media, we found that the most common type of regularly consumed media were newspapers, closely followed by digital news sites and magazines. Only around one in five respondents (mostly British) said that they regularly listened to the English-language radio station, Kiss FM.

The three most frequently selected reasons for foreign-language media consumption were “I’m interested in what’s happening here”, “it gives me useful information for my daily life”, and “it helps me to get to know the Algarve”. All three of these reasons were selected by over half the sample. Just over 40% gave the reason “because it’s in my language”, although only 20% selected “because I don’t understand the Portuguese media”. When asked to select the media features that they found most interesting, the most frequently cited was “news about Portugal” (just over 80% of respondents), followed by “local events” (around 70%) and “culture and free time” (55%).

In all, 83% of the sample thought that these media gave them more understanding about the place where they live although, in answer to a slightly differently worded question (“do you think these media help you to understand Portuguese society?”), only 60% responded affirmatively – showing that the concept of local place is somewhat divorced from that of Portuguese society.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, less than a quarter of British, Dutch, and French respondents felt that these media help them with learning Portuguese, although this figure rose to 43% of Germans. Around half of the sample thought that the media were helpful in daily life and in making everyday decisions, while around 80% thought that the advertising sections were particularly useful.

Around two-thirds of the respondents agreed that the foreign-language media help forge a sense of unity among members of the foreign communities in the Algarve, with almost 60% agreeing that these media help create a sense of belonging. Slightly fewer responses (55%) showed agreement with the statement that these media help the foreign communities integrate into Portuguese society, with 39% disagreeing and 6% not answering. This finding, which reveals a clearly split perception, was felt to be worthy of particular attention since it was backed by data from an open question and from the focus groups, as reported in the following section.

5.2 Foreign-language media and issues of integration

An open-ended question asked respondents to give reasons for thinking that foreign-language media might help with integration. The answers given10 11 can be sorted into those that mention a functional/informational role and those that seem to suggest a more affective or community-building role. Where appropriate, we use extracts from the focus group data to lend support to and gain greater insight into the answers provided to this survey question.

Many of the answers to the open question stressed the information-giving role: typically, local and national current affairs and cultural events that, importantly, fill a gap for those who do not have sufficient command of Portuguese to obtain certain types of information from Portuguese language media. The foreign-language media “provide information that otherwise might be missed” (British respondent) or would be difficult to find elsewhere “without fully grasping the Portuguese cultural and political references” (French respondent). These media have an important role to play in helping migrants better understand the sociocultural context in which they find themselves. The same point is well reported by the German respondents. For some of the Dutch respondents, the English-language newspapers help them gain information about the local area “in a language I can understand”, although they also mentioned that the newspapers focus too much on the British community.

The informational role of these media means that “foreigners are able to participate in events when they may otherwise not know of them” (British respondent) – information that can lead to local involvement. This idea was taken further by some respondents, especially the British (along with one or two French respondents), who note that having access to information through these media encourages them to “join in”, “support”, and otherwise “take an active part” in local events and charities, as well as helping them discuss and understand local events and encouraging interaction. For some, this leads to a feeling of being involved, of feeling “more at home here in Portugal” – of having the opportunity to “meet the Portuguese” and perhaps, ultimately, gain “greater understanding between communities”. From these comments, it is clear that, for some respondents, there is an affective need for the bridging effect these media can offer: one that goes beyond simply providing information.

In the British focus group, much of the discussion revolved around how the English-language newspapers inform on and validate the charitable work and fund-raising activities of the expatriate community: activities that are mostly aimed at helping animals and the poor. One participant remarked on how the media reported on one local charitable project, to raise money for equipment for the local bombeiros (firefighters), showing “how the Portuguese and the foreigners are working together…. It seems to be bringing people together.” Another suggested that “it’s a quiet way of integrating, it’s through the charitable sector”. Another participant was not so convinced, arguing that “there’s a big difference between giving money and being integrated… it’s a big jump. I’m not sure that the media could do that.”

The German participants seemed skeptical when assessing the role of the media helping with social integration. The focus-group session agreed that “up to a point yes they help us to be better informed” and “to understand the way to do things” but “they [the media] aren’t produced with that intention [to help integration]”. Responses to the open-ended survey question included several mentions of how it is impossible to integrate without knowing the language.

Some British respondents also focused on language issues. On the one hand, “it allows English speakers to not make the effort to learn Portuguese”, reinforcing how the language barrier contributes to the self-seclusion of expat communities. On the other hand, as one respondent put it, “as they’re in English it precludes many Portuguese from reading them” – perhaps thereby giving the impression of an elitist ingroup of English speakers that excludes outsiders from accessing their community. Another respondent noted that “the two cultures/languages don’t overlap much”, reinforcing the idea of two very separate communities living side-by-side with few bridges between them. As one Dutch respondent noted, “you have to take part in the interaction, not read about it”.

Other reasons given for feeling that foreign-language media hindered rather than helped integration were directed towards issues of content. Many comments suggested that the coverage of news and events was too narrow, with a focus on events “outside of Portuguese society” that are clearly aimed only at expats. Some French respondents complained that these media are “too commercial” (no doubt in reference to the strong presence of real-estate and related services advertising on which the majority of the media seem to survive financially); they “hardly mention the Portuguese community” or the “Portuguese way of life”. There were some suggestions not only of “insufficient encouragement/information” on Portuguese events, but also of “often inaccurate” coverage of such events. This point was also made in the British focus group, with several participants giving examples of and anecdotes about inaccurate information published in the newspapers, as well as offering fairly derisive comments about the quality of some of the journalism.

Finally, some comments stressed identity-orientation issues. While some blamed the media for having a clear orientation towards expats and an agenda centered on “their point of view”, thereby setting up barriers to integration, others expressed the opinion that there is no apparent desire for integration on the part of the foreign community: “The majority of the British community do not wish to integrate!”, one British respondent wrote, while a German respondent observed that “retired people do not want to integrate”, and another simply stated that “we are foreigners and will remain foreigners”. Finally, one British respondent put the blame on the host community: “I don't believe the Portuguese want any integration”. In these cases, the role of the locally produced foreign media as a bridge between the foreign and host communities would seem irrelevant.

6. Discussion and conclusions

This paper has aimed to explore the perceptions of EU residents who might be considered as lifestyle migrants on the role of locally-produced foreign-language media in the Algarve. We hope in this way to contribute to the scant body of research into the relationship between locally produced foreign-language media and contemporary migration experiences. Most of the literature that deals with issues of local press and communities of foreign residents focuses on the second half of the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century – particularly in the United States, where the proliferation of media produced by immigrant communities was widespread (e.g., Miller 1987, Rhodes 2010). Research exploring this relationship in more contemporary contexts – especially since the emergence of mass tourism and the related phenomenon of lifestyle migration from the north to the south of Europe – is much scarcer. While a handful of recent studies have focused on the production side of these media (e.g., García Galindo 2004, García Galindo & Cuartero 2019, López Romero 2009, López Romero & García Galindo 2018), very few studies have focused on readership.

In general terms, the studies that analyze the origins of locally produced foreign-language press and its evolution conclude that one of its most evident functions is to promote social cohesion and extol community identity. Pena writes (2018: 133) that this type of press was initially created to “develop a sense of cohesion and consensus among immigrants” as well as to help the “public projection of the immigrant community in North America”, while Pitsos (2018: 142) argues that it also exercised the function of promoting public participation in American society. Of much the same opinion is Richet (2018: 106), who claims that these media have represented “bridges towards the host society” and that the community-building function was “by far the most important function fulfilled by these periodicals produced by residents”. García Galindo and Cuartero (2019) argue that these media currently serve as “services” journalism in the initial post-migration phases but are no longer consumed by residents after long-term settlement.

The findings of our study seem to indicate that this is not entirely the case in the Algarve, since many of the respondents continue to consume locally produced foreign-language media despite having settled in the Algarve for many years. The findings show that these media have a clear functional role in providing information on local news, local events, services, and the place itself. For many people, whose lack of Portuguese language skills has a potentially alienating effect, the media provide a much-needed bridge, giving them a window into local affairs and events. For some, this may be limited to simply gleaning more information and a better understanding of the place they live in, while others use this information to take a more active part in the social world in which they live and gain a more positive sense of belonging. For still others, the community-building role is more ambiguous. Some clearly feel that these media do nothing to help feelings of assimilation and may even actively discourage or set up obstacles to integration. Many people seem unhappy about the segregating effect that these media seem to impose, not only through reinforcing language barriers but also by seemingly delineating certain aspects of culture as being specifically either for expats or the Portuguese, thus reinforcing the separateness of and boundaries between these communities.

In answer to our initial research question, we were unable to find support for a clearly defined role of these media among northern European residents in the Algarve. Although the survey results suggest that locally produced foreign-language media continue to be widely and regularly consumed – and may therefore be considered to play a considerable part in the migration and post-migration experiences of the majority of migrants – it would appear that there is no real consensus about how these media are, or should be, perceived. This is perhaps not surprising in light of the conclusions of other research on lifestyle migration, which point to feelings of ambiguity that stem from finding oneself positioned in a fairly self-secluded and privileged community. The bonding type of social capital achieved through interacting and forming networks with other “people like us” who “speak the same language” – which is inevitably reinforced by sharing community-based media – seems to be strong enough for the majority of northern European migrants to feel a sense of belonging and “home”. The question remains how much intercultural communication and interaction these migrants actively seek. There appears to be a sense of frustration that these media do not or cannot provide more of the bridging type of social capital that so many lifestyle migrants seem, on some level, to be lacking.

To conclude, we might well ponder the future of these media, especially considering the rise of social media and the Internet. One finding from our research that we considered particularly interesting is that printed media do continue to have a marked significance in the mediascape of lifestyle-migration destinations and the media diet of such migrants. However, this might be tied to age group: the tangible aspect of newspapers and magazines is certainly an important part of the cultural lifestyle of older generations. Printed media serve not only as sources of information, but also as leisure pursuits in their own right: from “flicking through” a glossy magazine, to doing the crosswords in the newspaper, as was noted in our British focus-group session. At the same time, it was noticeable from the focus-group sessions that even the older generations are increasingly turning to digital media sources, which are without a doubt changing both local and global mediascapes. These changes and their effects might well provide a focus for future research on media in lifestyle migration contexts.

Acknowledgements

The study presented in this paper is part of a broader research project entitled Communication Media and European Construction: A Socio-communicative Study of EU Residents in the South of Spain and Portugal, funded by the Spanish National Programme of Research, Development and Innovation, (nº CSO2015-65837-R), coordinated by Professor Juan Antonio García Galindo of the University of Málaga, and of which the authors of this paper are research-team members.

About the authors

photo of Kate Torkington Kate Torkington, PhD (applied linguistics, Lancaster University, UK), is professora adjunta at the School of Management, Hospitality and Tourism, University of the Algarve, Portugal. Her recent research has focused on the discursive practices surrounding migration, including lifestyle migration, as well as place identity and modes of belonging. She is currently a researcher at CiTUR: the Centre for Tourism Research, Development and Innovation (Portugal), focusing on media representations of tourism as well as discourses of sustainability. ORCID ID 0000-0001-9729-7872



photo of Filipa Perdigão Ribeiro Filipa Perdigão Ribeiro is professora adjunta at the University of the Algarve, School of Management, Tourism and Hospitality, Portugal. She holds a PhD in applied linguistics from Lancaster University, UK. Her current research interests focus on links between languages, discourse and tourism in their multiple facets as well as migration and media. She is a researcher at CiTUR: the Centre for Tourism Research, Development and Innovation (Portugal). ORCID ID 0000-0003-3267-7166


photo of Laura López Romero Laura López Romero holds a PhD in journalism and is assistant professor in the Faculty of Communication Sciences at the University of Málaga, Spain, where she is academic coordinator of the journalism degree. Her research focuses on the history of journalism in Spain and on media literacy. She is the author of several books and articles in these areas and is a member of national and international research projects. She is a member of the Transfopress international network. ORCID ID 0000-0003-2255-2933




Endnotes

1 The study presented in this paper is part of a broader research project entitled Communication Media and European Construction: A Socio-communicative Study of EU Residents in the South of Spain and Portugal, funded by the Spanish National Programme of Research, Development and Innovation.

2 The collective term “northern Europeans” is used here from the geographical perspective of Portugal.

3 Due to the large number of members of the Association of Foreign Property Owners in Portugal (AFPOP) and its long-standing influence as a source of local information, their newsletter was included. Other newsletters, circulated amongst members of smaller associations, were not counted.

4 See http://algarveresident.com/sample-page/.

5 Data provided by owner.

6 This news site subsequently closed down.

7 The broader research project of which this study is a part identified over 100 relevant media in the province of Málaga.

8 Source: SEFSTAT (2015) https://sefstat.sef.pt.

9 Source: SEFSTAT (2015) https://sefstat.sef.pt.

10 65% of British, 56.5% of German, 71.7% of Dutch, and 47% of French respondents answered the question.

11 All responses not given in English have been translated for the purposes of this paper.

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