Foreigners' impact on European societies: Public views and perceptions in a cross-national comparative perspective

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Abstract

The research examines the extent to which attitudes toward foreigners vary across European countries. Using data from the European Social Survey for 21 countries the analysis reveals that foreigners' impact on society is viewed in most countries in negative rather in positive terms. The negative views are most pronounced with regard to foreigners' impact on crime and least pronounced with regard to foreigners' impact on culture. Multi-level regression analysis demonstrates that the negative views tend to be more pronounced among individuals who are socially and economically vulnerable and among individuals who hold conservative political ideologies. The analysis also reveals that negative attitudes toward foreigners tend to be more pronounced in countries characterized by large proportions of foreigners, where economic conditions are less prosperous, and where support for right-wing political parties is more prevalent. The analysis shows that inflated perception of the size of the foreign population is likely to increase negative views toward foreigners and to mediate the relations between actual size and attitudes toward foreigners' impact on society. The findings are presented and discussed in light of sociological theories on individuals and structural sources of public attitudes toward out-group populations and on the role of perceptions in shaping such attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-29
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Sociology
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2008

Keywords

  • Ethnic relations
  • European societies
  • Immigrants
  • Prejudice
  • Public attitudes

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