Public Opinion and Populism

Joel S. Fetzer

in Oxford Handbook of the Politics of International Migration

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780195337228
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Public Opinion and Populism

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This article provides needed insight into public attitudes on immigration in a comprehensive review of social science research on immigration, public opinion, and populism. It begins by reviewing individual-level attitudes about migration, including sociological and economic predictors and psychological approaches. Within the former school of thought, there is a clear finding that education is associated with support for immigration and mixed findings about other would-be predictors (income, gender), as economic “threat” and in-group/out-group conflict variables both seem to exert cross-pressures on individual attitudes. Among the latter group, support for conservative parties, isolationist attitudes, and nationalism all boost anti-immigrant responses. The remainder of the article reviews the smaller literature on cross-national variation in attitudes toward immigration, changes in attitudes over time, differences in attitudes as a function of immigrant characteristics, variation in support for populist and anti-immigrant parties, and the translation of populist attitudes into restrictionist immigration policies. It concludes by identifying several important avenues for future research, including on immigration attitudes in the developing world by taking advantage of more mixed methodological approaches, and the media's role in priming the populist response.

Keywords: immigration; public attitudes; social science research; public opinion; migration

Article.  9810 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations

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