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Ural, Basak Yavcan (2011) PUBLIC OPINION TOWARDS IMMIGRATION IN EUROPE: A HETEROGENEOUS APPROACH. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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While often seen and presented as a panacea for the aging populations of Europe to maintain a functioning welfare state, immigration provokes a very strong public opposition from the host society and substantive inter-group tensions. To tackle this issue in greater detail, in this dissertation, I explore how immigrant groups with different ethnic backgrounds are categorized by members of the host society and the implications of these classifications on attitudes towards immigration and on European Union integration. Specifically, I challenge the assumption of people's perception of immigrants as a homogenous group as evidenced by the widespread use of a single survey question inquiring about support for overall immigration. I argue that public's perception of immigration is highly heterogeneous, resulting in a hierarchical categorization of immigrants mainly based on cultural similarity cued by ethnicity. I further argue that economic considerations are important but they mainly motivate opposition to immigration of ethnic groups that are perceived culturally similar. However, prejudice and symbolic considerations are the primary cause of opposition to immigrants that are perceived culturally different. I provide strong evidence for the applicability of this model with German General Social Survey data from the year 2006, original in-depth interviews and survey experimental data with an embedded newspaper priming and list experiment that I collected in Berlin between 2007 and 2009. With a rigorous triangulation of methods, I not only show that cultural similarity has a direct and indirect impact on immigration attitudes, but I also demonstrate how this relationship is suppressed by social desirability bias -the respondent's aspiration to give socially desirable answers to "look good" to the researcher-.Finally, regarding the implications of my theory on attitudes towards the EU, I find that separating immigration attitudes by ethnic group reveals that fear of EU enlargement is actually a far more important motive of Euroskepticism than it has been shown so far. Also, when social desirability bias is accounted for, the perceptions of cultural threat due to an enlarged Europe play a much larger role in explaining EU attitudes than conventional survey data suggest.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Ural, Basak Yavcanbay4@pitt.eduBAY4
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFinkel , Stevefinkel@pitt.eduFINKEL
Committee MemberSbragia, Alberta sbragia@pitt.eduSBRAGIA
Committee MemberHurwitz, Jonhurwitz@pitt.eduHURWITZ
Committee MemberSchain,
Date: 30 September 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 6 May 2011
Approval Date: 30 September 2011
Submission Date: 19 August 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: attitudes towards out groups; Comparative Political Behavior; Euroskepticism; Experimental Design; public opinion towards immigration; Social Desirability Bias
Other ID:, etd-08192011-143725
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:00
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:49


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