On SAGE Insight; Can Narratives of White Identity Reduce Opposition to Immigration and Support for Hard Brexit?

Article title: Can Narratives of White Identity Reduce Opposition to Immigration and Support for Hard Brexit? A Survey Experiment

From Political Studies

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Britain’s vote to leave the European Union highlights the importance of White majority opposition to immigration. This article presents the results of a survey experiment examining whether priming an open form of ethno-nationalism based on immigrant assimilation reduces hostility to immigration and support for right-wing populism in Britain. Data come from a survey fielded by the survey firm YouGov which took place on 16–17 August 2016 and consisted of 1677 adults, of which 1485 were from the White British ethnic majority.

Models of reported Brexit vote, confirm findings from the academic literature which claim that values and cultural issues are more important than personal economic circumstances in accounting for opposition to immigration and support for the populist right. In view of the association between cultural attitudes and populist right support, economic policies, such as Britain’s Controlling Migration Fund – designed to provide resources to districts such as Boston in Lincolnshire which are coping with a large influx (and which delivered the strongest Leave vote) – may prove ineffective. Likewise, Centre-Left parties may have difficulty addressing the immigration question with economic policy proposals. This article therefore suggests that political communications which reframe the relationship between immigration and national identity stand a better chance of addressing the cultural grievances driving the populist right.  Priming a more open form of ethnic nationalism is an effective strategy for reassuring conservative White voters.

Abstract

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union highlights the importance of White majority opposition to immigration. This article presents the results of a survey experiment examining whether priming an open form of ethno-nationalism based on immigrant assimilation reduces hostility to immigration and support for right-wing populism in Britain. Results show that drawing attention to the idea that assimilation leaves the ethnic majority unchanged significantly reduces hostility to immigration and support for Hard Brexit in the UK. Treatment effects are strongest among UK Independence Party, Brexit and White working-class voters. This is arguably the first example of an experimental treatment leading to more liberal immigration policy preferences.

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Article details
Can Narratives of White Identity Reduce Opposition to Immigration and Support for Hard Brexit? A Survey Experiment
Eric Kaufmann
First Published December 5, 2017 Research Article
DOI: 10.1177/0032321717740489
From Political Studies

     
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