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Anti-immigrant attitudes in context: The role of rhetoric, religion and political representation
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background. This thesis directs attention to how attitudes towards immigrants evolve under different contextual circumstances. Unlike previous research that primarily focuses on contextual factors related to the availability of material resources, the included studies explore the influence of less tangible aspects of our surroundings, brought together under the term immaterial contexts. Three kinds of immaterial contexts are in focus: political representatives’ use of nationalistic rhetoric, the parliamentary presence of the extreme right, and the religious context. The studies examine the direct effects of these contexts, but also how individuals’ beliefs, loyalties, and experiences interact with the contextual factors to shape peoples’ attitudes.

Methods. The thesis takes a comparative approach where countries serve as the main contextual unit. Data on attitudes and other individual features are gathered from the European Social Survey 2002-2012. To be able to analyze these data in the same model as used for country-level data, the thesis applies multi-level models.

Results. The findings support a theoretical expectation that immaterial contexts influence anti-immigrant attitudes. How people perceive immigrants and immigration can be traced to political and religious aspects of their surroundings. Also, it is found that individuals are not passive recipients of contextual influences as their reactions depend on their preferences and experiences. While political representatives influence anti-immigrant attitudes, these effects are strongly conditional both on features of the representatives themselves, and on characteristics and experiences of individuals. For example, individuals respond to political rhetoric by traditional political parties but are not influenced by the same kind of message if conveyed by a party belonging to the extreme right.

Conclusion. The thesis is an attempt to widen the very notion of contexts in empirical research, and as such, it is a contribution to the literature on anti-immigrant attitudes. It shows that anti-immigrant attitudes depend not only on material circumstances, but also on immaterial circumstances tied to the political and religious arena. Further, the thesis demonstrates how combining the theoretical perspectives of group threat theory and framing theory implies greater possibilities to conceive of the link between contexts and attitudes, as well as improved theoretical tools to understand when and why such effects do not occur. It signals that research on immaterial contexts is necessary to further advance the comparative scholarship on anti-immigrant attitudes and reach a deeper understanding of how such attitudes emerge and evolve.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2014. , 35 p.
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Sociologiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 1104-2508 ; 73
Keyword [en]
Anti-immigrant attitudes, immaterial contexts, political framing, political parties, religious context, Europe.
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88221ISBN: 978-91-7601-052-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-88221DiVA: diva2:714517
Public defence
2014-05-23, Norra Beteendevetarhuset, Hörsal 1031 Nbvh, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-04-30 Created: 2014-04-28 Last updated: 2014-04-30Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Articulated antipathies: political influence on anti-immigrant attitudes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Articulated antipathies: political influence on anti-immigrant attitudes
2011 (English)In: International Journal of Comparative Sociology, ISSN 0020-7152, E-ISSN 1745-2554, Vol. 52, no 6, 457-477 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines how political factors influence anti-immigrant attitudes by focusing on political articulation performed by political parties active at the national level in 26 European countries. Multi-level analysis reveals a significant positive association between general party articulation and anti-immigrant attitudes. In particular, it seems to be when traditional right- or left-wing parties articulate that attitudes towards immigrants turn increasingly negative. Left-leaning individuals are particularly influenced when parties belonging to the political left raise these issues, which indicates that the ideological position of the individual functions as a mediating factor in this regard. The results contribute to a broader understanding of the role of political factors and underscore the importance of their inclusion in cross-national studies of anti-immigrant attitudes.

Keyword
multi-level analysis, political articulation, political parties, prejudice, xenophobia
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-52042 (URN)10.1177/0020715211428182 (DOI)000298992700001 ()
Available from: 2012-02-08 Created: 2012-02-08 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
2. It’s who you know: political influence on anti-immigrant attitudes and the moderating role of intergroup contact
Open this publication in new window or tab >>It’s who you know: political influence on anti-immigrant attitudes and the moderating role of intergroup contact
2015 (English)In: Sociological research online, ISSN 1360-7804, E-ISSN 1360-7804, Vol. 20, no 3, 6Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study examines whether political frames influence anti-immigrant attitudes among native populations in 21 European countries, and if this relationship is somehow moderated by personal experiences of intergroup contact. Using data from the Comparative Manifesto Project and European Social Survey, two indicators of intergroup contact are tested: immigrant friends and immigrant colleagues, to see whether they can counter the effectof nationalistic political framing. The analysis reveals a positive relationship between nationalistic frames and anti-immigrant attitudes that is moderated by experiences of intergroup contact. In this sense, extensive contact with immigrants seems to inoculate individuals against political influences. The results contribute to a better understanding of both the role of political contexts and of the consequences of intergroup contact.

Keyword
intergroup contact, political frames, prejudice, xenophobia, multi-level analysis
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88215 (URN)10.5153/sro.3622 (DOI)000369745900010 ()
Note

Originally published in thesis in manuscript form.

Available from: 2014-04-28 Created: 2014-04-28 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
3. In the wake of extreme right electoral success: A cross-country comparative study of anti-immigration attitudes over time
Open this publication in new window or tab >>In the wake of extreme right electoral success: A cross-country comparative study of anti-immigration attitudes over time
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This article tests a theoretically assumed relationship between the parliamentary presence of extreme right parties (ERP) and anti-immigration attitudes over time. Data come from six rounds of the European Social Survey between 2002 and 2012 and cover the 16 European countries that participated in all rounds during this time. Using multi-level models with applications for repeated cross-sectional data, the study examines the implications of changes tied to the political advancements of the extreme right with a focus on three possible scenarios: people’s attitudes about immigration have generally become more negative, opposition towards immigration has become more dependent on immigrants’ ethnicity, and attitudes towards immigration have become more polarized. Contrary to expectations, it is found that neither the presence, the representational strength, nor the nationalistic framing of an ERP affect opposition towards immigration over time. Thus, the conclusion is that the ERPs, so far, have not driven anti-immigration attitudes in Europe. Possible explanations for these results are discussed in the concluding section.

Keyword
ERP, immigration, prejudice, political representation, over time
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88216 (URN)
Available from: 2014-04-28 Created: 2014-04-28 Last updated: 2014-04-29Bibliographically approved
4. How the religious context affects the relationship between religiosity and attitudes toward immigration
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How the religious context affects the relationship between religiosity and attitudes toward immigration
2013 (English)In: Ethnic and Racial Studies, ISSN 0141-9870, E-ISSN 1466-4356, Vol. 37, no 6, 937-957 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article approaches two shortcomings in previous research on religiosity and prejudice: (1) the lack of cross-country comparative studies; and (2) a failure to consider any moderating effects of religious contexts. We examine whether the relationship between religiosity and anti-immigration attitudes varies depending on religious contexts in Europe, and we find two things. First, strongly religious people are on average less likely to oppose immigration than non-religious people. Second, different religious contexts moderate the religiosity–attitude relationship in that religious people in Protestant countries and in countries with a low proportion of majority adherents are more tolerant than religious people in Catholic countries and in religiously homogenous countries. State policies also matter in that religious people are more negative where the government favours the majority religion. This calls into question the taken-for-granted understanding of religiosity and out-group attitudes found in the USA.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2013
Keyword
immigation, religion, Europe, prejudice, xenophobia, comparative
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-71404 (URN)10.1080/01419870.2012.748210 (DOI)000335947100001 ()
Available from: 2013-05-28 Created: 2013-05-28 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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