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Session Overview
RN31_10a: Xenophobia and Anti-Immigrant Resentment
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Wenlei Shi, Ghent University
Location: UP.4.210
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road

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Who Counts as Muslim

Natalia-Cornelia Malancu1, Laura Morales2, Melanie Kolbe3, Marco Giugni4

1University of Geneva; 2Sciences Po; 3The Graduate Institute; 4University of Geneva

The Muslim population on the move has increased and is expected to grow even further. This is the gist of what most major outlets have been saying since the beginning of the 2015 refugee crisis. In this context, one has to stop and wonder who is it exactly that we are talking about. How is it that we define Muslim migrants and how does this definition affect our ability to analyze and understand their integration trajectories. This article traces the categorization of "Muslim" in recent (post-2010) Europe-related quantitative research. It does so by focusing on both the theoretical and practical underpinnings that guided each such categorization decision. Furthermore, it highlights the impact of making similar decisions on assessing integration progress with respect to social cohesion, social ties, cultural and social norms, and linguistic skills. To do so it employs descriptive statistics and uses ethnic and immigrant minorities' survey data from several European countries known to have a "Muslim problem". This critical overview serves a cautionary reminder for both researchers and policy practitioners that social categorization is key to biased perceptions of within-group and between-group differences.

Do the Media Affect Concerns about Xenophobia and Anti-immigrant Violence?

Christian Czymara, Stephan Dochow

Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany

A growing field of research deals with the question how mass media shape public opinion about immigration and immigrants using real media data. One of the core arguments is that the media increase the perceptions that certain ethnic out-groups post a threat to the individual or to one’s own ethnic or social group. While this reasoning is generally plausible and much research focusses on the sources of threat perceptions, we take the opposite perspective and investigate how media reporting may boost what we call “out-group empathy.” Combining a quantitative content analysis of German newspaper and news magazine articles over 15 years with survey data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, we find that national salience of the immigration issue indeed increases individual concerns about xenophobic violence. Moreover, deeper analyses reveal that this empathizing effect of media reporting is especially potent for natives who identify with the social-liberal Green Party or The Left. An explanation of this fining is that these individuals generally tend to see newcomers less as a problem and thus are more concerned about their physical well-being. The large time-span we investigate suggests that this effect is not primarily driven by the recent attacks on refugees and their homes in recent times, but rather generalizable. The fact that media reporting on the same issue affects different concerns (threat vs. empathy) for different individuals points to the potential of mass media to, perhaps unintentionally, polarize the general public on the topic of immigration.

Perceived Discrimination as a Major Reason behind Return Migration From Europe

Meltem Yilmaz Sener

Norwegian Center for Human Rights, University of Oslo, Norway

This paper explains discrimination perceptions of Turkish qualified migrants who returned from Germany and the United States, and the impact of perceived discrimination on their return. It depends on in-depth interviews with 80 qualified Turkish returnees. Our findings indicate that: (i) returnees from Germany think they experienced ethnic discrimination; (ii) discrimination is a major reason behind their return; (iii) returnees from the US did not mention discrimination; (iv) discrimination is not a reason for return for them. We discuss these findings and explain the differences between German and American contexts in terms of ethnic boundaries. We use Alba’s (2005) distinction between bright and blurry ethnic boundaries to explain the difference between the two countries. However, going beyond his argument, we also connect this distinction to cultural capital. We argue that in a context where there are bright ethnic boundaries, high cultural capital does not free the individual from experiences of discrimination, whereas it can make a difference in a context where there are blurry ethnic boundaries. Qualified migrants choose to return from contexts where there are bright ethnic boundaries to escape from experiences of discrimination, as they can afford return due to their high levels of cultural and economic capital.

Disinformation and Xenophobia: Syrian Refugees in Turkey

Ahmet Kurnaz1, Zeynep Kurnaz2

1Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Turkey; 2Karabuk University, Turkey

Although the immigration crisis and social integration in Europe discussed in Islamaphobia context, little effort has been made to study xenophobia towards Syrians in Turkey the bridge between Europe and the Middle East. This study's primary objective is understanding the nature of the relation between disinformation and the xenophobic discourse in Turkish political context. We traced two key events which led discriminative and vituperative argumentation on Twitter and crawled associated tweets. The first incident arose in September 2018, when Syrian asylum seekers spent the religious festival of sacrifice in Syria then returned to Turkey, #SuriyelilerDefolsun (Syrians go away) hashtag became a trending topic. The second one appeared in the new year's eve when the refugees gathered in Istiklal Street, once a symbolic landmark of the secular opposition, and joined the festivities. In the following hours of the celebrations #ÜlkemdeSuriyeliİstemiyorum (I don't want Syrians in my country) hashtag burst. To answer our research question, firstly, we examine the fake news' utilisation. Second, we determine the target and the tone of the messages. Third, we categorise the tweets into specific groups such as economic, symbolic, empathetic etc. As a result, by employing qualitative and computational methods, we create a network of both explicit and latent variables to analyse the convoluted nature of the political debate. Preliminary findings show that the perception of Syrian immigrants as a threat produces a shared risk consciousness in Turkish society. Consequently, a new moral judgement emerges from scathing remarks about the refugees.

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