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Attitudes towards immigrants and immigration: A narrative review

The primary objective of this research is to investigate the factors that shape, form or influence attitudes towards immigrants and immigration. Through a narrative review methodology the thesis draws upon 144 publications in order to identify the key findings across economic and psychological literature, as well as a focus on individual and national differences in attitudes. While the study incorporates broad international literature, it is contextualised in relation to three traditional countries of immigration with similar colonial-settler histories; Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The study has identified that this area of research is characterised by inconsistent, contradictory and inconclusive findings resulting from the application of very different disciplines, data sources and methodologies. The variety of scholarly opinions found in the literature has led to a rigorous and continuing debate regarding the key determinants of attitudes towards immigrants and immigration – whether they be positive or negative and under what circumstances. More specifically, the thesis has identified that economic and social psychological theory offer quite divergent views on the matter of attitudes to immigrants and immigration. Economic theory tends to suggest that native-born populations prefer immigrants who are dissimilar to themselves (largely in socio-economic status), whilst social psychological theory suggests that native-born populations prefer immigrants who are similar to themselves (in terms of cultural identity). Furthermore, positive attitudes are found amongst those who hold a sociotropic view towards society in general. Overall, the thesis asserts that there is room for improvement in the way that questions around attitudes are formulated and theorised, and ways to improve data collection and analysis methods that can more seriously take into account wider historical, social, economic and political processes.
Type of thesis
Dixon, R. H. (2019). Attitudes towards immigrants and immigration: A narrative review (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12520
The University of Waikato
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