On SAGE Insight: Does multiculturalism matter?

Article title: Immigration and support for redistributive social policy: Does multiculturalism matter?

From International Journal of Comparative Sociology

Fears over immigration are starkly reflected in contemporary political discourse and stand center stage in the recent ‘Brexit’ vote and the US presidential election of Donald Trump. These events highlight the unease over immigration and the emergence of right-wing parties that incorporate anti-immigrant rhetoric as a central component of their political platform across affluent democracies. This article investigates the impact of multicultural immigration policy on the degree to which immigration reduces support for redistributive social policy among natives. Findings suggest that immigration flows positively affect support for social policy in countries with a high degree of multiculturalism. Multicultural institutions provide fertile ground for exploration of native perceptions of immigrants.

Abstract 

In this article, we examine the impact of multicultural immigration policy on the degree to which immigration reduces support for redistributive social policy among natives. Arguments linking immigration to support for redistributive social policy are hotly contested. Some suggest that immigration reduces support for social policy, while others suggest that it increases such support. To make matters worse, the empirical evidence is equally mixed. We take this confluence as a puzzle in need of explanation. Our point of departure is to introduce institutional context and multicultural immigration policy, in particular, as a key intervening factor. From the growing literature on multiculturalism, we derive three unique hypotheses by which immigration has different effects on native support for redistributive social policy across multicultural contexts. To subject these to empirical scrutiny, we examine the degree to which the effect of immigration on native support for redistributive social policy (regarding jobs, unemployment, income, retirement, housing, and healthcare) varies across multicultural context. Our findings suggest that immigration flows appear to positively affect support for social policy in countries with a high degree of multiculturalism. For some types of social policy, immigration flows actually increase support for social policy in highly multicultural countries but reduces such support in assimilationist countries. However, cross-national variation in immigrant stocks is uncorrelated with support for social policy regardless of the level of multiculturalism. We conclude by highlighting how our findings point to the need for more research on how multiculturalism impacts native perceptions of immigrants.

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Article details
Immigration and support for redistributive social policy: Does multiculturalism matter?Ronald Kwon, Michaela Curran
First Published December 1, 2016
International Journal of Comparative Sociology 2016, Vol. 57(6)
DOI: 10.1177/0020715216685767

 

     
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