Denizen politics : a comparative analysis of opposition to immigration in the European Union

Mohanty, Peter Cushner
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This dissertation presents a series of observational studies of opposition to immigration (OI) in the European Union. A substantial portion of the public seems to prefer a more exclusionary form of democracy, but how large, how vocal, and how organized that portion is varies considerably. I investigate exclusionism, a dimension of individual belief about how extensive political membership should be that tends to reflect how denizens prioritize political and cultural aspects of membership. In situating exclusionism, I shed light on three puzzles: Which of an individual’s concerns are the strongest determinants of OI? Which national developments are the strongest determinants of an individual’s OI? How are the effects of an individual’s concerns shaped by national context? Exclusionism predicts OI in more countries in the EU than do ideology or religion. Post-9/11 conflicts increase OI but not as dramatically as do increases in the Muslim population (suggesting perhaps that Islamophobia outpaces security risks). OI is highest in new countries of immigration, but polarization is most pronounced in older countries of immigration, where ongoing national developments have created unusually large generational gaps, religious differences, and disagreements about exclusionism. Political interest is key for explaining large differences in opinion, too. Exclusionism increases OI, even in low-immigration countries, among individuals with little interest in politics but only slightly; at high levels of individual interest and immigration, exclusionism’s effects are substantial. My findings reveal major challenges to integration policy in high-immigration countries: migrants and natives are unlikely to see eye-to-eye at any level of political interest, and there is near complete disagreement on immigration policy between politically-interested Muslims and politically-interested Christians. Methodologically, I introduce techniques to analyze polarization, and my findings have implications for best practices in cross-national survey research.