Individual and contextual explanations of attitudes toward immigration

Authored by: Eva G. T. Green , Oriane Sarrasin

The Routledge Companion to Migration, Communication, and Politics

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138058149
eBook ISBN: 9781315164472
Adobe ISBN:


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Contemporary societies are more and more culturally diverse, largely due to immigration. At the same time, anti-immigrant attitudes are rising and right-wing populist parties are gaining support. Uncovering the multiple reasons that explain the rise in intolerance is a major challenge. This chapter introduces multilevel research examining the interplay of individual and contextual accounts of anti-immigration attitudes and radical right-wing voting. This approach allows for the examination of how individuals’ attitudes are shaped by the socio-structural (e.g. immigrant ratio) and normative contexts (e.g. prevailing values) in which they develop, over and above the individual-level determinants of these attitudes (e.g. threat perceptions, personal experiences with immigrants, ideological orientations such as national attachment). The development of large-scale international social surveys has enabled comparative research between and within nations, which takes into account the impact of contextual factors on individual-level processes. Moreover, the necessary multilevel research designs can now be implemented with a number of statistical software packages. Our recent research conducted in Switzerland – a country with a large immigrant presence – is presented to exemplify this research approach.

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