Immigration to wealthy nations is one of the defining flows of the contemporary global economy, intrinsic to many notions of what ‘globalization’ is all about. Some of these new arrivals come as political refugees; others are seeking better livelihoods for their families. Migrants play key roles in most of these receiving societies, frequently as relatively inexpensive labor. But they also use various social services like health care and education, are often very culturally and linguistically different from established citizens, and frequently are perceived as a threat to at least some portions of the ‘native’ populations of the host societies.
The articles in this themed issue address this contemporary social problem in western European societies in which immigration is a significant demographic reality, engendering strong anti-immigrant attitudes among some groups, and leading to heated political debates about the appropriate role migrants play in welfare state policies. Each article is based on cutting-edge statistical analysis of comparative survey data. They illustrate the nuances and variability of anti-immigrant sentiments in various European countries. But each study also empirically assesses abstract sociological theorizing about the perceived threat that immigrants pose as an out-group related to broader ideas about welfare states, self-interest theory, prejudice and discrimination, and contact theory. The focus is not on policy formulation, but good social scientific analysis as a first step toward addressing the real-life challenges that immigration presents to these societies.
David A Smith
European attitudes toward immigration: Editor’s introduction International Journal of Comparative Sociology April 2015 56: 95-97, doi:10.1177/0020715215602786