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Negative Outgroup Attitudes and Opposition to Democratic Norms

Comparative Politics
Democracy
Migration
Immigration
Public Opinion
Beyza Buyuker
University of Illinois Chicago
Beyza Buyuker
University of Illinois Chicago

Abstract

Studies of intergroup relations have documented that negative out-group attitudes are key drivers of majority group political judgements in the U.S and Europe. However, this research has not been extended to regime level norms, such as civil liberties and other principles of democracy. The literature on civil liberties shows that despite high support for democracy, there is instability in majority groups’ embrace of specific democratic norms. This literature identifies various drivers of opposition to democratic norms but has limited engagement with the scholarship on intergroup relations. This study bridges the gap between the two literatures by explaining why we should expect a relationship between out-group hostility and opposition to democratic norms. We argue that in racially and ethnically diverse societies, public support for democratic norms among majority groups is partly driven by perceived cultural threat related to racial and ethnic minorities. Following racial priming theory, we suggest that majority group members with strong negative priors about racial and ethnic out-groups perceive demands for equality and inclusion as threatening. Thus, members of the majority group who have negative views of racial and ethnic minorities are likely to support restricting democratic norms in order to better protect majority privileges over an inclusive democracy. We test this theory via three original survey experiments in the U.S, Switzerland, and Turkey.