Nav: Home

UK prejudice against immigrants amongst lowest in Europe

February 26, 2019

According to analysis of the largest public European and international surveys of human beliefs and values, prejudice against immigrants in the UK is rare and comparable with that in other wealthy EU and Anglophone nations. Published in Frontiers in Sociology, this new study challenges prevailing attitudes on Brexit, the nature of prejudice, and the social impact of modernization.

"In the media turmoil surrounding Brexit, many pundits have seized on the prejudice angle, but these data demonstrate that is not actually what makes the UK different from the Continent," contends co-author Professor Mariah Evans of the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). "Prejudice against immigrant workers or minority ethnic and religious groups is rare in the UK, perhaps even slightly rarer than in equivalently developed EU countries. Even though only a small minority is prejudiced, in a large population that still makes many people - enough to show up in anti-immigrant demonstrations or to mobilize letter-writing campaigns to MPs."

Prejudice in the UK is 'stock standard' for a wealthy EU nation

With half a million combined respondents, the World and European Values Surveys provide a large, time-series, cross-sectional view of people's attitudes, beliefs and opinions in 100 countries.

The researchers analyzed responses from these and the well-known European Quality of Life surveys, to found out how ethno-religious prejudices vary between nations at different stages of socioeconomic development. Specifically, they compared the prevalence of prejudice in the UK to that in its global culture group and other EU countries at approximately the same level of development.

"We found a high level of tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity is typical of prosperous European and Anglophone nations, whereas ethnic and religious prejudice is much more common in poor countries.

"In this respect, the UK is 'stock standard' given its GDP per capita: just like their wealthy EU peers, around 15% of Britons would object to having immigrants as neighbors, around 10% would object to neighbors of a different race, and 10% would rather not have neighbors of a different religion."

Tackling one form of prejudice improves tolerance towards all groups

The analysis also showed that across all nations, prejudice tends to be either against all minority ethnic and religious groups or against none.

"We show that a single root prejudice - that all the feelings about specific groups spring from a single generalized feeling of tolerance or intolerance towards diversity in ethnicity and religion - holds across the whole globe," says study co-author Dr Jonathan Kelley, Adjunct Professor at UNR and Director of the International Social Science Survey.

"There is not a specific British or Japanese or Mexican pattern - rather prejudices are linked together in the same way everywhere. For example, people who would shun immigrants as neighbors would also shun neighbors of a different religion and neighbors of a different race. People who are good with one group as neighbors tend to be good with all.

"Prior researchers have suspected this, but this is the first time it has been demonstrated."

Modernization is a positive force for tolerance to diversity

The authors recognize the limitations of a survey-based approached.

"Being scientists, we would always love better measurement," allows Kelley. "For example, ratings of prejudice on a five- or seven-point scale, and breakdown by region, would have provided a more accurate picture than yes/no responses at the national level. Also, of course, the situation is rapidly evolving, so data even a few years old may be light-years away from rapidly evolving and unstable ethnic and religious group relations."

Nevertheless, these data provide a much more rational and accurate barometer of public opinion than do anti-immigrant demonstrations or political rhetoric.

"There are many ways in which Britain is known to be 'exceptional' in the European context, but prejudice against immigrants is clearly not one of them," adds Kelley.

Evans suggests a number of other positive corollaries of their findings.

"Spillover in attitudes about different groups means that events and examples that lead people to feel more warmly towards one minority will also increase their warmth towards others. For example, a well-publicized act of personal heroism by a Buddhist would likely ever so slightly increase the general public's positive feelings towards Buddhists, but also towards immigrant workers, towards people of African descent, towards Muslims, and, indeed towards all minority ethnic and religious groups.

"Equally promising, the strong gradient of prejudice decreasing with national development - economic growth and institutions that support personal freedom and markets - suggests that contrary to fashionable belief, modernization is a powerful force for good as far as tolerance for diversity is concerned."
-end-
Please link to the original research article in your reporting: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsoc.2019.00012/full

M.D.R. Evans is Professor in Sociology, Social Psychology, and Applied Statistics and is a member of the Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. Jonathan Kelley is Adjunct Professor at UNR and Director of the International Social Science Survey at the International Survey Center. His large survey (on income inequality) is now underway. Anyone who would like to record their opinion is welcome at:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Inequality-10

Frontiers is an award-winning Open Science platform and leading Open Access scholarly publisher. Our mission is to make research results openly available to the world, thereby accelerating scientific and technological innovation, societal progress and economic growth. We empower scientists with innovative Open Science solutions that radically improve how science is published, evaluated and disseminated to researchers, innovators and the public. Access to research results and data is open, free and customized through Internet Technology, thereby enabling rapid solutions to the critical challenges we face as humanity. For more information, visit http://www.frontiersin.org and follow @FrontiersIn on Twitter.

Frontiers

Related Diversity Articles:

Revealing Aspergillus diversity for industrial applications
In a Feb. 14, 2017 study published in Genome Biology, an international team report sequencing the genomes of 10 novel Aspergillus species, which were compared with the eight other sequenced Aspergillus species.
Important to maintain a diversity of habitats in the sea
Researchers from University of Gothenburg and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) show that both species diversity and habitat diversity are critical to understand the functioning of ecosystems.
Discovering what shapes language diversity
A research team led by Colorado State University is the first to use a form of simulation modeling to study the processes that shape language diversity patterns.
Making the switch to polarization diversity
New silicon photonic chip that offers significant improvement to the optical switches used by fiber optic networks to be presented at OFC 2017 in Los Angeles.
Deciphering the emergence of neuronal diversity
Neuroscientists at UNIGE have analysed the diversity of inhibitory interneurons during the developmental period surrounding birth.
Epigenetic diversity in childhood cancer
Tumors of the elderly carry many DNA mutations that can influence disease course.
Diversity without limits
Now, researchers at Temple and Oakland universities have completed a new tree of prokaryotic life calibrated to time, assembled from 11,784 species of bacteria.
Threatened by diversity
Psychologist Brenda Major identifies what may be a key factor in many white Americans' support for Donald Trump.
Diversity as natural pesticide
Monoculture crops provide the nutrient levels insect pests crave, explains a study led by the University of California, Davis, in the journal Nature. Returning plant diversity to farmland could be a key step toward sustainable pest control.
A missing influence in keeping diversity within the academy?
A new study of science Ph.D.s who embarked on careers between 2004 and 2014 showed that while nearly two-thirds chose employment outside academic science, their reasons for doing so had little to do with the advice they received from faculty advisors, other scientific mentors, family, or even graduate school peers.

Related Diversity Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...