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Political Research Exchange

Anti-immigrant Prejudice after the 2015 Migration Wave: The Interaction of Political Orientation, Perceived Threat and Concept of National Identity

National Identity
Political Psychology
Political Ideology
Survey Research
Ajana Löw
University of Zagreb
Ajana Löw
University of Zagreb
Saša Puzić
Institute for Social Research in Zagreb, Croatia
Jelena Matic
Institute for Social Research in Zagreb, Croatia

Political ideology and political orientation are, surprisingly, under-investigated concepts in research on immigration attitudes, especially in Europe (Hainmueller & Hopkins, 2014). Recent studies from US suggest that the ideology-prejudice link varies depending on contextual factors, such as concern over challenges to the in-group (national) boundaries (e.g. pronounced in-group threat or changing concept of national identity) (e.g. Lahav & Courtemanche, 2012; Hopkins, 2013). However, it remains unclear whether contextual factors affect only right-wing participants or have equal influence on those who are not initially anti-immigration, i.e. left-wing participants.
In the context of the 2015 migration wave, this paper investigates the interaction of political orientation, perceived threat and concept of national identity in explaining anti-immigrant prejudice among Croatian youth. The study was conducted in spring 2016 on a representative sample of high-school graduates of Zagreb and its suburban area (N=1050). The questionnaire assessed political orientation, perceived in-group threat, concept of national identity, cultural and religious practices and sociodemographics.
When controlling for sociodemographics, participants’ political orientation, perceived in-group threat, concept of national identity and cultural and religious practices explained a substantial amount of variance of anti-immigrant prejudice. Results revealed an interaction effect between perceived threat and political orientation. When perceived threat was high, there was no difference between left-wing and right-wing participants in the level of prejudice. Findings are discussed in relation to theories of prejudice that emphasize the role of concerns over potential challenges and threats to the in-group identity. The paper contributes to the existing literature by providing identity-based explanations of changes in social climate after large-scale migrations.
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